Community leaders and elected officials inaugurated the Fairmount Indigo Planning Initiative at the Strand Theatre on Tuesday afternoon. The two-year program will call on economic development groups, city and state agencies, and some of the 160,000 residents living along the commuter rail line from Readville to South Station to encourage the growth of local businesses and the development of additional housing opportunities along the 9.2 mile-long corridor.
The $380,000 effort, funded by the Boston Redevelopment Authority and grants from the Garfield Foundation and the Boston Foundation, will push on as work continues on three of four new stations the MBTA plans to add to the line.
At the launch, Mayor Thomas Menino said he had high hopes for the redesigned line and highlighted the economic opportunities improved mass transit could provide for residents living near the tracks.
“This is about more than just extending and redesigning a line,” Menino said. “This is about building neighborhoods and reducing the unemployment line by connecting communities to economic opportunities, jobs, transit, and housing.”
District 4 City Councillor Charles Yancey said he welcomed the city’s efforts to capture local feedback and said he hoped the finished project will reflect the needs of the community.
“It’s very significant … to have legitimacy among the community,” Yancey said. “It has to have the community involved in the process from start to finish.”
State Rep. Carlos Henriquez said that for the effort to have a lasting economic impact, the MBTA needs to hold up a previous agreement to ensure ticket costs do not price out those most in need of a ride. He cited a “pledge to keep fares on par with Orange and Red Line fares,” and added, “I hope they honor that pledge.”
The two-step planning process will initially poll residents to help determine a visual character for the corridor and identify economic and business development goals, followed by business and job creation efforts targeted to specific stations and intersections along the line, which crosses five of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development’s Main Streets business districts.
The process will be guided by a corridor-wide advisory board that the city is still working to form. Nomination papers are available online at fairmountindigoplanning.org.