Development is on Frank Baker’s mind as he is looking to his next term as District 3’s city councillor. In an interview with the Reporter at the Sugar Bowl Ice Cream and Coffee shop, Baker, who has no opposition on the ballot, talked at length about the state of his district, which stretches from the South End down to Lower Mills.
“Not having a challenger, I just think that speaks to the work that we do, especially my office,” he said. “That allows us to focus on what it is we’re going to do these next couple of years.”
Much of his attention, aside from the daily drumbeat of constituent services, will be spent on the various movements around Columbia Point and Morrissey Boulevard. With the 16-acre Boston Globe site still up for sale, and the Glover’s Corner planning study well under way, “a lot of it is going to be shaping the way this side of the district is going to look,” said Baker as he weighed in on the changing face of District 3.
On Columbia Point: “We’re getting ready to start with the planning of it all. With the Globe, I’m not someone who’s going to fret over something that’s not in front of me. Once that sells… that’s just gonna reignite the Master Plan, I think. And having the Master Plan, I feel good about at it this stage. As [development] comes up, we can point to that and say, we planned this already and people are comfortable with this, so let‘s use that as kind of a blueprint.”
On a private partnership to develop the Point: “I think it’s the only way we’re going to be able to A, get it done, and B, develop that whole Point out there where the people aren’t stuck there and the people over here can’t get over there. I would love to see that whole area be connected – water connections, bike connections, and also Kosciuszko Circle. It’s going to need to be a big project. I mean, I wasn’t necessarily anti-stadium, it’s just that what I didn’t care for is the way it was floated. It was floated to everybody through the Globe. It’s just not the way to do it. You sit and you talk and you say, these would be the benefits, these would be the pros/cons. We weren’t able to have any of that, but I sit and think about it a lot, and that whole peninsula over there, you’re talking about 75-100 acres of land… and an entertainment use over there I don’t think would be a bad idea. If it took up 20 acres, you’d still have 60 acres for housing, commercial, office space, jobs.”
On housing needs: “We’re going to need to look at different ways that people are aging. So, the people that are in their homes, that are over-housed, they should be able to come up with ways to stay in their homes and maybe use their home for the investment that it is… With all this development that’s happening, we have to figure out a way that people that live around here can actually benefit from the new apartments, whether that‘s through education on the lotteries, how they’re all going to work, and how they‘re going to sign up for them. Because all that affordable housing is all done by lottery, and people always say, “Well, that’s never for us.” But did you call DND, did you get on the list, did you start doing this? And even people who do are having a hard time. So we have to figure out how to make that pathway.”
On transit options: “Long term, the talk of completing the Columbia Road Greenway; I mean, that would be an absolute dream. And then you would have safe lanes, real biking. I also think, with biking, we should be moving them to where our bike paths are, over by the water. On Dot Ave, it’s very, very difficult… I’m looking for the walking experience at this point in my life. I’m driving around in Dot Ave traffic all day. I want to park my car and have more than just one option or two options.”
On the city budget: "I think it’s a good budget. You always wish there was more money for more things, and you know what, some of my parks are being done over, and that’s good. I wish we had more money so we could really do impactful things... So I think we have $3 million for Savin Hill park, and I’d love to wrap that road around the backside. That alone would probably cost $3 million. So I’d love to say, we have $3 million for the road, then $3 million for the park. Then, you know, Garvey [playground] has $5 million, and there’s so much we could do there; I wish we had 10 or 12 [million] so we could do more."
Next: Andrea Campbell and District 4.