Hey, there! Log in / Register

City councilor who once fought against narrowing roads to make them safer now says he supports the idea

Essaibi-George, Flaherty, Halbert, Murphy, St. Guillen, Wu

At West Roxbury forum: Essaibi-George, Flaherty, Halbert, Murphy, St. Guillen, Wu

A forum for at-large City Council candidates in West Roxbury this evening focused on two issues of concern mainly to the neighborhood: A city proposal to reduce the number of lanes on Centre Street from four to three between the Holy Name rotary and Spring Street to promote pedestrian safety and a proposal by Roxbury Prep to build a high school on the site of the former Clay Chevrolet on Belgrade Avenue at West Roxbury Parkway.

Incumbent Councilor Michael Flaherty said he once would have stood shoulder to shoulder with West Roxbury residents opposed to narrowing Centre Street and that, in fact, he vigorously fought both state and city transportation agencies that wanted to do something similar on L Street and Day Boulevard in South Boston in response to the 2018 death of a young child, killed when a car involved in a crash jumped a curb.

Flaherty said he was particularly concerned about the potential loss of parking spaces in a neighborhood where, he allowed, "folks would rather give up their car than their parking spot."

But, he told a forum at the fall meeting of the Bellevue Hill Improvement Association, the "road diet" has actually worked out well and meant "major, significant safety improvements" along L Street and Day Boulevard, and he now sees the benefits of such proposals.

Still, Flaherty stopped short of telling West Roxbury they would benefit as well from a city proposal, drafted after a neighborhood resident in a crosswalk at Centre and Hastings streetswas struck and killed by a driver who says she was blinded by the sun.

"It worked in my neighborhood and it may or may not work in this neighborhood," he said, adding that West Roxbury residents and Centre Street business owners "need a seat at the table" and need to have concerns about traffic winding up on side streets addressed.

Incumbent Annissa Essaibi-George said the city should take some immediate steps, such as repainting crosswalks and adding flashing lights at key pedestrian crossing points before working with residents on more major changes to the road.

Other candidates agreed that residents and business owners need to be at the table in planning any traffic changes in the neighborhood, but took an actual stand on the specific Centre Street proposal.

Erin Murphy, one of the challenges for the four at-large seats in the November election, unequivocally supported the proposal. She said she was in Recreo Coffee on Centre Street when Marilyn Wentworth died while crossing the street to get a cup of coffee there - and called for a moment of silence in her memory.

Incumbent Michelle Wu also came out in favor of the proposal, although she criticized the way the city fails to do adequate planning on major issues - such as changing the main thoroughfare in a neighborhood. "We need to be planning for safety across the city," rather than simply throwing together proposals after somebody has been killed or seriously injured.

Challenger Alejandra St. Guillen, who lives in West Roxbury, and challenger David Halbert also supported the proposal. An advisor to challenger Julia Mejjia, who did not attend, said she also backs the idea.

Roxbury Prep

There was a clearer break between the candidates on this issue, also known in the neighborhood as 361 Belgrade.

Essaibi-George said she has long opposed the proposed school. Flaherty said he stands with the Greater Belgrade Avenue Neighborhood Association, which was initially formed to fight the school. Neighbors, he said, "know what's best for the community."

Murphy, a Boston Public Schools teacher, said the site is simply too small for a school with the number of students Roxbury Prep has proposed. "As a Boston Public Schools teacher, I don't think the city should be supporting charters coming into the neighborhood."

Wu said she is "very torn" by the Roxbury Prep issue. Ultimately, though, she said she opposed the proposal because the city should be concentrating on fixing its existing public schools. "Our kids are not being served" by BPS, she said, pointing to the shutting of the former West Roxbury High School.

Mejjia's advisor said she opposes the school both because she is generally opposed to any charter expansion in the city and more specifically because Roxbury Prep has issues with excessive disciplining of students.

Two candidates supported the school.

Halbert called for a sort of middle way. He said that he would require the school to meet with neighbors and draw up a compact detailing how the school would minimize neighborhood impact from traffic and students - with a proviso that if the school fails to meet those goals, it would be ordered shut at that location.

St. Guillen, who called herself a BPS supporter, said she would still favor letting Roxbury Prep build on the site. "It's an equity issue."

Incumbent Althea Garrison did not attend the forum, but association President Ginny Gass said Garrison has strongly supported the residents in their fight against the school. In May, Garrison proposed a resolution that would have the council formally oppose the proposal - which drew the ire of even district councilors who agree with her but who don't think at-large councilors shut butt into their turf or get the council enmeshed with the BPDA project approval process.

Neighborhoods: 
Topics: 
Ad:

Comments

Last week’s preliminary election proved outright that the anti-road diet crowd is nothing but a noisy minority in West Roxbury. Marty Keogh, the road diet resistance leader, got trounced in his home neighborhood, with less than 12% of the vote in Ward 20.
If there was some sizable faction of West Roxbury residents up in arms against it they’d have certainly come out in force and voted the anti-road diet candidate into the finals.
Instead he lost out to political newcomers, who chunked away at his home neighborhood votes by supporting the road diet.
Case closed. Squeaky wheels are going to squeak, but city leaders can read the scoreboard now on this one.

up
Voting closed 40

I haven't heard a word from either one of them. They are both longtime residents of the Parkway area. O'Malley is worried about plastic bags and straws. He should speak out on this subject.

up
Voting closed 9

if he still holds the position he enunciated at the first public meeting. He essentially said that he likes the proposal but that certain aspects should be reviewed and possibly revised. So wishy washy but overall favorable. I do not know if he has made any subsequent statements on the matter.

up
Voting closed 5

Flaherty says he had an epiphany, first opposing and now approving of a road diet for Day Blvd which is one of the two roads he sees out his front windows,

He says he now approves of changing Day Blvd from 4 lanes (2 each way) to 2 lanes and parking on both sides of the road, and a turning lane at some intersections. There's no new infrastructure or space allocated for other modes of transportation, just more parking and a turning lane at intersections.

So it's odd Flaherty said he was particularly concerned about the potential loss of parking spaces in a neighborhood where "folks would rather give up their car than their parking spot" because the "Road Diet" would appear to have increased auto parking by about two-fold.

He's the man who objected vociferously to paying for permitted parking. Where he lives on Columbia, which is an access road that runs parallel to Day Blvd., everyone can have five cars and park them out front on both sides of their street and if all those spots are filled, on either sides of Day Blvd, now.

Flaherty is on record opposing a bicycle track on Broadway in South Boston

Bike lanes on Broadway – for or against?
Bike lanes have helped facilitate safer transit for cyclists all across the city. While I encourage their use throughout Boston, I would not support bike lanes for Broadway. Broadway is a high-traffic avenue with a multitude of buses, delivery trucks, pedestrians, and double-parked cars. I believe bike lanes would only contribute to the chaos and thus create dangerous paths for cyclists. I think Southie offers better alternate routes for bike lanes and I would be in favor of exploring those options.

I'm putting Mike down as making a pitch for politics. He's in favor of a plan for West Roxbury that he'd fight in South Boston. He told mostly the truth about Day Blvd. road diet but not all of it (he said his opposition was due to parking concern when in fact the plan improved parking supply two fold, not that people on Columbia are suffering from lack of parking) and he mislead in order to substantiate his brand as a new convert to transportation design reformist. That is inauthentic, at least when it comes to his neighborhood. He's running city-wide.

up
Voting closed 15

Road diets are not drastic revolutionary changes. When implemented according to the accepted engineering standards they don't have much effect on traffic congestion and make a big improvement in safety.

Local pols will often jump on the NIMBY bandwagon because it's an easy way to win over a large group of single-issue, change-is-bad voters. But it's not such a good look after the change is completed and works well for everybody. You don't want to continue campaigning against something that wound up being a success for everyone in your neighborhood.

up
Voting closed 8

O’Malley has publicly supported the Centre Street road diet the entire time. Quick Google search shows that and he spoke at the big meeting on it.

Rush, who knows? Probably against it but he doesn’t take a position publicly on anything. He is a do-nothing politician. Same with Coppinger. West Roxbury keeps electing these two and I can’t name one thing either has really done.

up
Voting closed 18

The Bellevue Hill Neighborhood Association is one of the most NIMBY groups in the entire city. A group of well-off homeowners living in their oasis up there on the hill, pretending they don’t live in a major US city with real problems to address. Not surprising at all that they would host the at-large candidates and solely ask about two hyperlocal issues they oppose. They are even suing to stop the school.

up
Voting closed 23

I don't understand why they would pick that location? The traffic at Belgrade and WR Parkway at morning rush hour is really bad. You already have a school one block away. I really don't buy that they will all use the commuter rail. The Needham train doesn't run that often. I cannot figure why the students who I assume are from Hyde Park, Mattapan, Roxbury for the most part would want to go to school in West Roxbury?? The location is very small and again you are adding more auto traffic, Bus traffic. Teachers will have to drive into school.
Doesn't make sense.

up
Voting closed 6

Because the land is available and they’re able to purchase it. I think it’s pretty straight forward. Funny you don’t hear any of the people forecasting traffic gloom and doom with Roxbury Prep out there complaining about Holy Name School, which already causes real headaches for drop off and pick up. Or the Mozart School just around the corner. Hmm why is that?

up
Voting closed 6

I generally like Wu but I'd love an explanation on how a non-BPS organization raising funding to build a new free school somehow impacts 'the city should be concentrating on fixing its existing public schools. Did the construction of the new Brooke high school impact BPS ability to fix Boston English? Also correct me if I'm wrong but this is a relocation of an existing school so again, not a further diversion of BPS resources into a charter. Just say you don't like charters, it's not hard and plenty of people will support that opinion. There's no reason for this mealy mouthed nonsense. Furthermore, if you want to oppose the Roxbury Prep relocation, the questions of if it's a good school which treats students fairly (no idea if this is true) is a much more specific complaint to discuss not 'I wish BPS was better'.

up
Voting closed 29

They should make Spring St a narrow two lane road south of Tony's down to the Dedham line. That will divert commuters onto the VFW and out of WR.

up
Voting closed 13

You wolld have traffic backed up to St. T's, Try getting onto Rte 1 or out to the highway
around 4 pm traffic is backe dup to the Elks. now.

up
Voting closed 3

If the goal is to make Centre St safer for local residents, then getting suburban commuters to take the VFW instead is step # 1.

up
Voting closed 15

I think that all major roads should adopt this policy of one lane. I think we should prevent all out of town vehicles from using Centre Street.

I saw a nitwit biker riding on the Jamaica Way Saturday afternoon during Red Sox Game Traffic, amazing and they wonder why they are getting hit.

up
Voting closed 2

Yes, that's exactly the same thing as being discussed. If you can't understand the difference between Centre St and the VFW and Rt 1, then I guess you're pretty bummed about your boy Marty Keogh failing to get enough votes.

up
Voting closed 4

Flaherty, he basically analyzes any issue by pondering "What would Weymouth do?"

up
Voting closed 18

You wish you had bike lanes like Weymouth does.

up
Voting closed 3

needs to be put on a car diet himself.

his noncommittal language speaks for itself.

up
Voting closed 17

He said, "shut butt" Hee-hee.

up
Voting closed 5

To compare Day Blvd and L Street to Centre Street is not fair. While Day is busy there are no businesses on it. And L St. is really not a business area. I know it is used as a cut thru to get in town.

up
Voting closed 3

I've lived through three major thoroughfare re-designs: Beacon St in Brookline, Mass Ave in Arlington, and Comm Ave in Boston.

At each one people were up in arms about how the local economy would tank, there'd be non-stop traffic, it would ruin that part of the city, etc. Arlington was the best: Some crackpot even hired his own traffic consultant and tried to sue.

In each case Nothing Bad Happened. No business closed due to lack of parking. Traffic was no worse than it had been. The city wasn't destroyed. Locals enjoy the area more and it's safer for everyone, even drivers.

up
Voting closed 30

moved round so much ,If you were fine with each situation? I think the Centre St. Business owners should have big say in this. Even the building owners along Centre St if their
renter's businesses fail they will not get the rent they want.

up
Voting closed 2

In cities that close city centers to cars, where people walk and ride their bicycles, the people shop more often and spend more in aggregate. And the store owners are the ones most opposed to opening the city back up to car traffic. That is not our situation but it is a fact.

West Roxbury Centre Street and then Spring down to the Parkway has 6 lanes allocated to cars (4 moving and 2 parking) and sidewalks, that is all. That design encourages drivers to accelerate, to change lanes, and to hit the gas to avoid red lights. It's designed like a parkway with stop lights every couple of hundred yards.

No space is allocated to bicyclists. No space is allocated to bus traffic. Traffic flow is not optimized. I was impressed when I saw this.

up
Voting closed 13

... there was hope for Five Car when he reconsidered rent control.
Councilors do listen sometimes.
Essaibi-George and her flashing lights aimed at pedestrians can go fly a kite.

up
Voting closed 4

BTD could have done Essaibi-George's suggestions by now. As it is, we are talking months of meetings before the lane diet can even be approved.

up
Voting closed 6

I'm afraid 5 car says what he thinks people want to hear and not in fact what he'd back in South Boston. What that tells me is that he's a better candidate for South Boston than for city wide.

up
Voting closed 6

He will get reelected citywide in November.

up
Voting closed 4

when people make fun of him and express their opinions as his constituency, and he adjusts his messaging accordingly.

unless and until he makes explicit promises for which he can later be held accountable, do not trust that man.

up
Voting closed 6

He's a good, successful politician.

up
Voting closed 4

and crafts a deceptive message.

up
Voting closed 3

He's a good, successful politician.

Perhaps you don't know how politics works.

up
Voting closed 4

Politicians fail when they decieve their constituents, and their constituents know they're being deceived.

up
Voting closed 2

n/t

(edit- yes, I put the wrong politician's name in the subject line. I suppose I could have put Yoon and gotten away with it, but I picked a different at-large councilor from the 2000s.)

up
Voting closed 2

Let the man enjoy his quiet life in retirement down in the Florida.

up
Voting closed 2

I didn't know Murphy retired from Register of Deeds position at 142K. I guess that job is like a retirement.

up
Voting closed 2

Mainly because I don't put Flaherty in the same category as Murphy. I've only put Connolly and Pressley in that category.

up
Voting closed 2

I knew who you meant but went for the snark anyways.

up
Voting closed 2

Totally understand.

up
Voting closed 2

Perhaps you have the wrong continent.

Did you mean:
"Bellevue Hill is an affluent harbourside eastern suburb of Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia, located 5 kilometres east of the Sydney central business district, in the Municipality of Woollahra. The suburb is located within the Division of Wentworth electorate, which is the wealthiest in Australia. The suburb has long been home to Australia's most notable billionaires?"

Or do you mean:
that you are not aware that the monocrhome neighborhood of the 1970s is today a melting-pot, where the Bellevue Hill Area is now one of the most diverse neighborhoods with individuals (and their ancestors) originating from all over the world including all continents except for Antarctica?

up
Voting closed 5

Bellevue Hill Area is now one of the most diverse neighborhoods

Compared to Needham? Sure
Compared to the city it actually sits in? GTFOH

up
Voting closed 5

Mattapan isn't diverse either. 82% Black and 11% White

Used to be a nice part of the city now it is dump

Boston Public Schools are not diverse

42 Hispanic, 34% Black 14% White 9% Asian

Pull out Boston Latin and Latin Academy and white population would be what 5%

So that is wrong improve BPS standards. What % of Roxbury Charter School Students

are white or Asian?

Please don't start the racist bs either the schools are a mess.

up
Voting closed 3