Imagining the future of Boston: Growing bigger, growing better

On Jan. 8, 2015, Boston was given the incredible opportunity to explore bidding for the 2024 Olympic Summer Games. It was a historic moment that sparked a months-long discussion about our city’s future. And from the very beginning, we were thinking about a future for Boston after the Olympics. We started thinking seriously about what we wanted Boston to look like – in 2030, 2040, and beyond.

Boston is not pursuing the Olympics anymore, but that doesn’t mean this conversation about our city’s future has to end. We’ve gained so many bold and exciting ideas from the Olympic process, ideas that shouldn’t be forgotten or ignored.

One of the great ideas that came out of this process was the potential for Widett Circle. There may never be an Olympic stadium there, but we could build a brand new neighborhood, connecting the South End and South Boston. We could open up new opportunities for transit, with the Mass Ave. connector to I-93 and the MBTA Red Line.

Another area we’re looking at is Columbia Point, a place once considered for the Athletes Village. We could build a neighborhood there, too, filled with commercial and retail space, a community service center, and maybe even dorms. This whole area could be transformed.

The bottom line is that the ideas, and the possibilities, are endless. Right now, we are designing Imagine Boston 2030, our first city-wide planning process in 50 years. We will look at how to incorporate into this ongoing effort the ideas born out of the Olympic bid process and other ideas as well.

We are excited to welcome Sara Myerson as the executive director of Imagine Boston 2030. She did incredible work serving as our director of the office of olympic planning and she will continue her leadership in guiding us through this multi-year planning process and mapping out a plan to make Boston a truly thriving, healthy, and innovative city.

Now is the time for us to think bigger than ever before. Boston is currently in its third biggest building boom. More and more people are moving to our city all the time. We need to accommodate this new growth. And we need to make sure that while we grow bigger, we grow better.

Designing this citywide plan will be an exciting and dynamic journey. And public engagement is the heart of this process. Imagine Boston 2030 only works if we are building it together. So we are asking for input from every Bostonian, in every neighborhood, to create this new vision for our city. I invite you all to be a part of this discussion, and to let your voice be heard during this historic time for Boston.
Martin J. Walsh is the mayor of Boston.