In 2010, the Boston Transportation Department initiated the community design process for East Boston Central Square, a thriving commercial Main Streets District in the heart of East Boston. Central Square was identified as a priority project in the 2008 East Boston Transportation Action Plan.
The design team is led by Howard Stein Hudson and includes Klopfer Martin Design Group, Chan Krieger Sieniewicz, and Toole Design Group.
At the introductory meeting, the community identified the following design objectives: safe pedestrian crossings; parking and loading to support small businesses; more open space and better use of the park; a reduction in pavement; organization and improvement of traffic circulation; and consolidation of bus stops.
At the second public meeting, two design concepts were presented to the community: One had more open space and less parking, and one had less open space and more parking. There was general consensus for a hybrid option, with more parking near the East Boston Social Center and more open space in the other areas.
Meeting Presentation, 27 July 2010
The third public meeting focused on elements of the park design, including the low wall for seating, climbing and imaginative play; the Meridian Street allee; the market/festival terrace with ramp and stairs for seating; and relocation of the memorial and flag to a more prominent location near Meridian Street. Bus stop locations were also discussed, with a general preference for stops that are near the square but not directly in the most congested section of Meridian Street.
Meeting Presentation, 30 Sept 2010
At the fourth public meeting a proposal was introduced to reduce congestion at the Bennington/Porter/Meridian street intersection. The proposal is to make Bennington Street one-way for one block outbound from Merdian Street to London Street. This would significantly reduce the number of conflicts and delays at the Bennington/Porter/Meridian street intersection while having minor impacts on surrounding streets. While there was general support for the proposal, it still needs to be reviewed by other parties including Bennington Street merchants and area residents who were unable to attend the meeting.
The benefits of reverse angle parking were also discussed for the area across from the East Boston Social Center (Central Square South). There was general support for installing reverse angle parking in this location, given low speeds and traffic volumes and safety benefits.
NOAH and the youth organization EC3 provided an educational piece on "Blue Cities" (also called "green streets") in which stormwater is captured in the soil using pervious pavements, rain gardens, and stormwater tree planters. BTD and Boston Parks Department will work with NOAH and EC3 to find opportunities to take a Blue Cities approach in the East Boston Central Square design.
The fifth public meeting focused on details of the project design: lighting; green stormwater management; Decaux wayfinding map; relocation of the veterans memorial; and narrative features on the elliptical wall. There was general support for the concepts presented with the exception of the proposals for the elliptical wall. Many expressed a preference for a simple treatment of the wall, with no historical text or references. The comments are under consideration and a separate public meeting will be convened to determine the final treatment.
It was noted that veterans groups were consulted prior to the meeting and expressed support for the plan to relocate the monument to a more prominent location.
The sixth public meeting covered more design details, including granite types for the wall, skateboard deterrence, a proposal to engrave the name "Bertulli Park" in the wall at the park entrance, the use of contemporary LED lighting and furniture, locations for bicycle parking, and wifi in the park. A traffic signal at Central Square South and Meridian Street will be included in the design.
The next community meeting will be held in Spring 2011.