Gateway Project Plans Unveiled at CRSVNA Meeting
Project will cost an estimated $1 million.
Speaking on behalf of the Gateway Committee, Charles River/Spring Valley Neighborhood Association President Dennis Orthman detailed preliminary plans for the Gateway Project at the CRSVNA fall meeting at the Boston Lodge of Elks Wednesday night.
The project, originally conceived over three years ago, aims to beautify the mostly concrete Spring Street-VFW Parkway intersection that Orthman said, despite serving as the entry to much of West Roxbury's business district, currently "doesn't compliment the river and doesn't compliment the parkway."
"Ten thousand cars drive by this area each day," he said. "We'd like to get some of them to think of coming by and spending some money."
The Gateway Committee, which is comprised of West Roxbury residents, several Spring Street business owners, and number of elected officials and candidates for elected office, worked over the last year with Somerville-based CBA Landscape Architects to draft the plan.
The site, referred to as the gateway, would be right where the southern side of the VFW Parkway merges into Spring Street, nestling behind the dead end segment of Oakmere Street. The gateway, which would be raised (to attract the attention of drivers) and covered in grass, would feature a granite sign reading "Welcome to West Roxbury," low flowering trees closer to the street, tall red maple trees behind those, a walkway connecting Oakmere Street to Spring Street, and possibly a piece of public art. Orthman suggested that the art may be one of the neighborhood's veteran memorials.
The look of the gateway is meant to reflect West Roxbury's historic character as a farming and hunting community. CBA's design approach reads that "the image that will greet one upon approaching Spring Street and West Roxbury will be the natural landscape indicative of rural New England in general and West Roxbury in particular."
The project, however, will take some time to complete. The Gateway Committee is currently without any further funding after paying CBA the entirety of the $10,000 grant it received from the Browne Foundation, Orthman said. CBA estimates that the entire project will cost $1 million, he said.
Orthman said the committee will next look for more funding from the Browne Fund while also looking to the city and other sources. State Representative and Democratic State Senate candidate Mike Rush said that Dedham officials may be interested in partnering on the project.
Former CRSVNA president Stephen Smith said that though the Gateway Project's becoming a reality will be a long process, things may move faster in terms of funding now that there is a clear plan in place.
"When you develop a plan, the city gets incredibly more responsive," he said. "Now we have a concrete plan. Its a big step in the right direction."
"When you have the will, the money does become available," he added.
Some local politicians and candidates for office in November's election were on-hand at the meeting and offered their support for the Gateway Project. West Roxbury District City Council candidate Matt O'Malley, At-Large Boston City Councilor and West Roxbury resident John Connolly, and Rush all voiced support for the project. O'Malley even worked his support for the project into his campaign.
"I am so excited about this," he said. "If I am elected I am going to try my best to make this a reality and get full funding."
In other action on the night...
- State Senate candidates Rush and Brad Williams as well as City Council candidates O'Malley and Jim Hennigan introduced themselves to neighborhood voters.
- Shirley Walsh, the owner of antique and art shop Kalembar Dune, was introduced to the neighborood. Walsh and her husband recently bought the building that her shop is located in at 170 Spring St. She said she plans on renovating and cleaning the facility before renting out three of the building's four available units to function as "fun" shops. With the other, she plans on expanding Kalembar Dune into a second unit.
- BPD Officer Edward Roache provided crime data in West Roxbury and Roslindale dating back to July 15. Compared to 2008, he said, motor vehicle larcony, auto theft, and aggravated assault numbers are down while residential burgulary and robbery are slightly up.