Milton neighbors: Please say ‘no’ to billboard on Granite Avenue

The following has been excerpted from a Dec. 2 letter sent from the Cedar Grove Civic Association to the Town of Milton’s administrator and Select Board (and copied to the Reporter) regarding a proposal for an electronic billboard to be sited at 2 Granite Ave:

The Cedar Grove Civic Association is an 83-year-old community organization formed and maintained by concerned citizens of our neighborhood to foster civic pride and involvement, and to promote and maintain the quality of life that we enjoy. We want to let you know that on this side of the river, we are adamantly opposed to both the addition of any new electronic billboards, or the conversion of any existing static billboard to electronic. For the last several years, we have actively opposed several Dorchester property owners who have sought to convert their existing billboards to electronic technology, all of which are along the Southeast Expressway, and therefore, are also along our riverfront and harbor front.

For the last 50 years, our organization has stood with all other Dorchester neighborhood organizations that border the Southeast Expressway in opposition to the proliferation of billboards both in our community, and along the expressway, which in the era of urban decay and poor planning decades ago, cut our community off from our waterfront. Billboards remain eyesores, and are a reminder of the disregard that was shown for Dorchester decades ago, before zoning code existed.

Billboards offer almost nothing of benefit. They do not promote the economic development of our neighborhoods, they don’t contribute to an aesthetic, and they don’t create jobs. This proposed billboard would be visible from the Neponset Bike Trail, Pope John Paul Park, and the Neponset River Estuary.

The lawyer representing the Flatley Company, the owner of the property at 2 Granite Ave. and proponent of the billboard, considers the fact that this billboard may not be visible from any homes in Milton as a benefit; however he neglected to mention that it will be visible from many homes and parks in our community.

Not only would this billboard it be in violation of state law, but it would also be in complete disharmony with everything that activists, community groups, and environmental advocates have been working toward for decades.

Today, our waterfront is home to no less than six waterfront parks, and a bike trail that, when complete, will fully connect Mattapan Square, through parts of Milton and Dorchester, to Castle Island in South Boston.

In 1995, the Commonwealth designated the Neponset River Estuary, which surrounds 2 Granite Ave, as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). Recently, the Lower Neponset River, from Hyde Park to the Baker Chocolate Factory, finally made the Federal Superfund list, which could allocate millions of federal dollars for chemical cleanup, finally removing the “forever chemicals” that were dumped into the river by some of those long-forgotten factories.

The most relevant statute this proposed sign would violate is 700 Mass. Reg. 3.07, which states in Paragraph 6: “No permit shall be granted for a sign that is within 300 feet of a public park, playground, cemetery, forest, reservation and/or any other scenic or recreational area in excess of 30,000 square feet, regardless of ownership, which is available for public use, or reserved for the public, if any part of the sign or billboard structure is within view from any accessible point of the park.”

This is an area where this past summer, we had two nesting pairs of American Bald Eagles. Thirty years ago, it was a landfill and a junkyard. What incredible progress!

Let’s keep it moving in the right direction and respect the laws and regulations that were written to protect our public lands, parks, and open space.

We understand that there may be a small financial benefit to the Town of Milton, but that benefit cannot possibly be worth the permanent harm that would be done by this billboard. As your neighbors, we ask that you consider the law, consider your neighbors, and reject this proposal.

Steve Bickerton, Jr., president, Cedar Grove Civic Association

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