Pressures from various neighborhoods have kept a change in Boston's police districts slow cooking for years, but the final touches are being added to a new re-districting recipe that may be ready by November, as long as no neighborhoods get steamed.
District captains have been reaching out to their constituents, feeling out how each views the natural boundaries and allegiances in their neighborhoods.
At a meeting in Cleary Square's E-18 station house in Hyde Park last Thursday, Roslindale residents beat back a proposal to shift a section of their neighborhood just west of Mt. Hope Cemetery into Mattapan's District B-3, but the new Olmsted Green development in E-18 - which B-3 Captain James Claiborne can see from the steps of his station - may still be absorbed. Neighborhood allegiances and natural boundaries played heavily into the debate.
"We're Roslindale, not Mattapan," said Florence Jackson-Princio, even after it was explained that travel time from B-3's station house would be less than it is from E-18's, clear on the other side of Hyde Park. Her steadfastness was mirrored in her neighbors, and police brass backed off, quickly altering the boundary of their proposed district change.
"We don't want to make change that doesn't make sense for people," said superintendent of field services Daniel Linskey, at the meeting. "The goal is to make sure we have sufficient resources across the city despite district boundaries."
The changes, which if enacted would subtly affect several districts including parts of Dorchester and Mattapan, are a mixed bag of corrections of after previous redistricting plans and reactions to natural boundaries and new demands.
In Mattapan, the Olmsted Green development would add over 400 units of housing to District E-18. The fact that the B-3 station is visible from the complex's front entrance and E-18's central facility is way out on the southern edge of the city makes the change to B-3 a no-brainer.
On Columbia Point, I-93 creates a natural boundary that hampers access from the C-11 station house, making the route to B-6 a potentially easier jaunt for police cruisers. And a proposed development at Bayside could bring anywhere from 300 to 900 new rental housing units on the point within the next decade, along with a large shopping center and likely more development bringing more demand for police presence.
Captain John Greland from C-11 was on vacation this week, but his colleague Captain Robert Flaherty at B-6 said he and Greland would be setting up a joint meeting with residents of the point to see how they react to the idea in the next couple of weeks.
"It's a fit with South Boston," said Flaherty. "Maybe the workload for district 11 is a little heavier and we'd be able to get there a little faster."
Lastly, a tiny section of District B-3, including Marcy Road and part of Edgewater Drive near Mattapan Square, would revert to District E-18 under the new proposal. Linskey said he hoped to have the changes finalized by November, when a new class of cadets will be graduating from police academy, but added that there was no hard and fast deadline for the process and the plans would go forward only after residents concerns were heard.