^^ Meridian Street. Planners see too many cars and not enough bus lanes. I see a neighborhood that works and knows itself well.
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Boston’s Planning and Development agency is currently publicizing its plan for future East Boston. The outreach has aroused anger from many — from more people of the neighborhood than I have seen step forward on any land use issue since the days of Logan Airport exspansion 40 years ago and longer.
Nor is the anger misplaced. The “plan” imposes ITS priorities on people of entirely opposite priorities. For a neighborhood already dense with dwellings, it wants even more density. To a neighborhood scarce of parking spaces it demands FEWER parking spaces. On a neighborhood of streets narrow to negotiate, it would carve out dedicated bus and bike laness, making car traffic a nightmare’s nightmare.
The plan is not merely a mistake. It is intended as a mistake. Or rather, should I say, it treats East Boston as a mistake.
So when 200 people gathered recenty, at Don Orione Home atop Orient Heights, to shout a very loud and long “NO !” to being run over by briefcased, cubicled managers who view the neighborhood as a mistake, those cubicle folks should have understood in advance that their “plan” is — to us — more COVID than vaccine.
A harsh simile, perhas, but not inapt.
The “plan” cannot work. Perhaps if East Boston were uninhabited, as it was in 1629, highly paid city-crats could conct a fantasy of density and bike lanes aand all would be just ducky. But East Boston IS inhabited. It is a neighborhood that works; that has worked for more than 150 years, as an immigrant destination with a working class economy.
The problem today is that Boston neither has a working class economy nor wants one. It wants biolabs and research boutiquess. It wants financial, educational, and health care institutions where imported employees work for $ 125,000 salaries and up.
It wants these because these folks can afford the “luxury condos” that the City’s developers demand to construct.
The City wants developers to build what they, the developers, want because it’s the developers — and their asssociated consultants, architects, lawyers, accountants, and building trades workers — whose $$$$ donations finance the City’s political campaigns. Even campaigns for City Councillor from our District cost $ 100,000. As for we the ordinary people, who work hard for $ 45,000 to $ 65,000 paychyecks, we cannot afford to donate even a little, which means that we literally DO NOT COUNT.
But I digress. My main point is that a plan which calls for wiping out the customs and structures of a neighborhood that works well, and has worked well for 150 years, is no plan at all, it is dictatorship.
Most of us dislike Donald Trump because he would be a dictator. I get that and I despise him for that, too. But how can we despise Trump dictator and not equally dislike Boston planning as dictator ?
Neighborhoods should be respected to work out THEIR OWN customs and structures, when those workouts accommodate what the neighbors who live in them adjust to. The East Boston of my youth was just such a place. Even today, with the neighborhood’s visage pockmarked with hives of luxury, for the most part the neighborhood carves its own ruts in the ground, plots its own paths through the clutter of traffic and the mazes of parking luck.
I do not see ANY reason why the neighborhood should not continue to whittle its own wood and grind its own stone.
Which means more parking, not less, and plenty of road space for the 80 percent of us who use cars — autonomous transporation, because personal freedom matters. It’s why our ancestors came here. For that and for jobs and a good enough life.
Yes, I digressed again…
As one neighborhood voice puts it, “we’ve done our share for the City’s housing goals. Let other neighborhoods contribute.”
we are told that the City’s Plan results, at least in part,, from neighborhood input gleaned from several meetings at which City planners hosted the public. Such meetings do take place. Neighbors speak up at them. From what. I can see, however, nothing that we speak up about changes at all.
Set aside the City’s “plan.” Let “Stand Up For Eastie’ and the new Orient Heights Neighborhood Council encourage and preserbe what we have.
We aren’t opposed to renovation, not even to new dwellings. But there are zoning laws in place, fir a reason — to safeguard neighborhood — and we can build lawfully if we want to. We just can’t buy a property on spec, pay tuday’s artificial prices, and gouge a profit.
There has to be more than biolabs and hi tech start ups There has, somehow and somewhere, to be manufacturing work that supports $ 45,000 to $ 65,000 wahes and thosw ho earn them. President Biden has worked hard to get his bipartisan Infrastructure bill enacted. He constantly touts the return of manufacturing jobs, jobs, jobs to America. I agree completrely.
Let’s do this. Which means, also, let’s do it right here in Boston and the cities to our north, where manufacturing once ruled. Give us the jobs that enable our neighborhood tgo be what it evolved to be. So that those of us who are not biolab whiz kids and institutional cubiclars can continue to have a life in our City.
— Mike Freedberg / Here nad Sphere