Funds secure for the greening of Mattapan Square

A rendering shows how the median strip along Blue Hill Avenue might be enhanced as part of a state-funded renovation in Mattapan Square. 	Image courtesy City of BostonA rendering shows how the median strip along Blue Hill Avenue might be enhanced as part of a state-funded renovation in Mattapan Square. Image courtesy City of Boston

Mattapan Square is in for a $500,000 makeover. Funds from a state bond bill allocated for landscaping and other improvements to the Mattapan Square median transferred into the city’s coffers on the last day of the Patrick administration and the project is set to break ground this spring.

Boston Public Works on Dec. 10 presented their plans to plant trees and shrubs in a beautification effort between Babson street and the gateway into Mattapan from Milton. They plan to increase the abundance of plant life, especially around the statues commemorating the Mattahunt tribe which lived in the area 400 years ago.

Tina Petigny, executive director of Mattapan Main Streets, said the meeting was a conversation and a demonstration of the city’s plans for using the state funds.

“We want to see less concrete and more greenery,” she said. “We’re trying to bring to life the vision that this community has had for the past ten years. These are just the beginning steps of how it looks and begins to feel in Mattapan around creating a district that is livable, walkable, enjoyable.”

The plan includes big planting beds, an irrigation system to keep the plants thriving, and repairs to several curbs and grates.

Mattapan Square was the 20th and last “Main Streets District” to be designated by the city, under the Menino administration. Working with colleagues, state Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry and state Rep. Russell Holmes, state Rep. Dan Cullinane helped author an amendment in the 2014 transportation bond bill securing the funds.

“Mattapan Square is a gateway to the city of Boston,” Cullinane said. “The Mattapan residents and businesses deserve to have a main streets district that’s vibrant, beautiful, and looks, businesses and residents deserve that.”

Throughout his campaign Cullinane promised to put Mattapan Square front and center. “It was upsetting to me to look down the same street, down Blue Hill Avenue, into Milton, and see trees and flowers and landscaping, and then you turn around on that exact same street, into Mattapan Square, and all you see is a bland, vacant, cement median with nothing on it,” he said.

In addition to the $500,000 for median improvements, another $500,000 is budgeted for a traffic study to plan for further developments that improve the square. “It was important not just getting the money authorized in the Bond Bill, but making sure that that money became real,” Cullinane said.

Another $500,000 for the traffic study is still in limbo, pending Governor Charlie Baker’s approval.

There was a first meeting earlier in the fall, and Dec. 10 was the city’s second public meeting on the topic.

“I want to give Mayor Walsh tremendous credit for the public works department coming out and running a very thorough, and transparent community process, to make sure that all of the stake holders, the residents, the businesses of the square, the main streets association, and the non-profits that are in and around Mattapan all had a say,” Cullinane said. “Now this beautification of the square is real. It is going to be happening and hopefully we’ll have shovels in the ground next spring to make it beautiful for next year and many days to come.”