Milton residents fear influx of crime if planned Neponset River trail crosses into their town

The Dorchester Reporter goes on a tour of land along the river that might be used for a trail; notes issues, including fear by some Milton residents that a new footbridge would leave the town wide open to criminal elements.

Ed. note: As a Boston resident, I agree with the sentiment. The last thing we need is to make it easier for ammo-toting, punch-throwing, illegal trash dumpers to cross the river into Boston.

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Not Again!

We went through this 20 years ago with the Minuteman. Like, one could do better for "crime magnet" than an abandoned and unpaved and unpatrollable rail bed that attracted rapists, bonfire builders and people robbing houses and vanishing into the underbrush.

Even 20 years ago, there were decades of data from across the country debunking this "fear". Put simply, an active corridor that can be patrolled results in reduced crime.

Twenty years later - and more bike paths in Massachusetts this time - guess what? MORE DATA and MORE INFORMATION!

I guess it's just easier to parrot something from the olden days with a certain truthy vigor than to look at decades of actual evidence demonstrating that turning dead spaces into through spaces increases safety and property values. But I suppose it is still all bad if the *wrong* sorts of people come biking through and call the cops when the local losers are breaking into your house?

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All depends on the situation

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The University of Rochester, my alma mater, is situated in a river bend the Genessee River. On the other side of the river is the 19th Ward, a section of the city that is/was high crime. Just before I went to school there, they built a footbridge over the river that was billed as "helping students reach out into the community". Unfortunately, it did the exact opposite. Previously, you'd have to come in from the front of the university past security, etc. Now, criminals had a back door straight onto campus (and off) and those students who did "reach out" were mugged as soon as they crossed the bridge.

I read that a major gang crackdown took place, and then patrols were stepped up in the bridge area and the problem is lessened (point taken), but it was a solution that invited the problem. It was 20-30 years before the problem went away because the placement and law enforcement/security portion of the bridge planning wasn't considered to begin with.

If all you do is build access for criminals to come into and out of your community out of range of current patrols/patterns, then you might as well leave the keys in your cars too.

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There's no Great Wall across the Neponset

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It's already pretty easy to get across the river at Lower Mills and Mattapan Square - and one supposes a determined criminal could easily walk across a couple more trolley crossings.

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I understand the fear of gun violence

while not agreeing with the the idea that eliminating the trail would provide protection against it.

Gun violence in Roslindale in the Washington street project and neighborhood around the project near the WR Parkway (and water tower) grew from rare to frequent over a few months and then it continued in frequency over a year and spread in the area it occurred in. It turns out it was gang members who sell drugs and gang bang and there were a lot of victims of the violence. People who were targets were getting shot on the street, in their homes, through basement windows and people who were bystanders were getting shot too.

I live on the other end of West Roxbury (ten minute walk) but this gun violence was troublesome, not just for the victims and the body count, but for the potential insecurity it posed as it grew in frequency and in the area it occurred. .

How did it resolve? The city shut down the project to rebuild it and the violence stopped. But the violence was a reasonable concern for anyone living in the area. People organized and asked for meetings with city councilors and the district police chief. Security is #2 on the list of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. It's important. I wonder if there are reasonable concerns about violence not occurring in Milton that is occurring in the neighboring town or if the fear is driven by something else.

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Not disagreeing with your main point, but clarification

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On Washington-Beech: The problem started when the city began rebuilding a project in Dorchester (Franklin Field?) and moved some of the tenants there to Washington-Beech. Almost all the violence (including a drive-by shooting during a funeral procession that killed one guy right at my daughter's bus stop) was linked to just one apartment. The BHA got those people out and the violence ended. And then the rehab began (and then we kept seeing occasional bursts of violence along Washington).

They're doing the rehab in phases, so Washington-Beech was never entirely shut down - now that they're largely done with the new building at the corner and some of the townhouses, they've started work on the second phase.

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Thanks Adam

for supplying all of the detail that I glossed over or got wrong. I appreciate it.

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Correct Adam, except the

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Correct Adam, except the displaced residents which brought the violence came from the rehab of Franklin Hill projects.....

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Binky-ridden Minuteman trail

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Alyssa Boehm, who lives in Arlington, reports:

Sure. I mean, the Minuteman trail is just riddled crime. And by crime I mean bike riders and people with giant strollers. I can hardly walk the trail without tripping over a discarded binky, sock or lovey. It's pretty dangerous and terrifying.

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Before the Minuteman Was built

As a contrast to this binky crime, there was real crime. Houses lining the old railway that were broken into by people who would hide in the brush and hide the stuff they stole in the overgrown weeds for later pick up. There were bonfires and serious vandalism of structures, including arson. There were a couple of rapes where the perp vanished in the overgrown track line.

All this is far more difficult when motorcycle patrols can effectively manage the space, and people are on the trail at most hours and report suspicious activity.

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Irony

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I love people who choose to walk on a bike path and then complain about bike riders. It's not even called the "Minuteman trail" but rather the Minuteman Bikeway:
http://www.minutemanbikeway.org/

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Rail trails are for everyone

not just people on bicycles. Here in Somerville we call our trail the "Somerville Community Path", rather than "bike path", to emphasize that it's also for walkers, runners, strollers, rollerbladers, etc.

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Trails are for everyone & that has become a challenge for all

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Certainly that is the defacto situation that trails are for everyone, as it is necessary to muster the support of as many people as possible to construct these things.

In my ideal world, however, a multi-use trail would be wide enough to be split into 3 designated "lanes" in each direction to accommodate various user activities. Pedestrians could have the far right lane, the rollerbladers and slower bicyle riders the middle lane, and the fast cyclists the far left lane.

The current situation on popular paths - e.g., the Minuteman and the Charles - has become unbearable and is extremely dangerous for all because the various users are moving at such markedly different speeds. It is important to make the limited recreational space in the urban environment accessible to as many different kinds of users as possible, but unless we start thinking about and solving the user incompatibility issue, these paths will become victims of the their own success (and a lot of people will be hurt in the meantime).

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Multiple parallel paved paths

exist on the Southwest Corridor, and also in Cambridge's Danehy park, with one path designated for pedestrians and the other for bikes. Im not sure people really see or understand the signs in either place, however.

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In my ideal world, however, a

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In my ideal world, however, a multi-use trail would be wide enough to be split into 3 designated "lanes" in each direction to accommodate various user activities.

Good God - a three-lane path? And maybe traffic lights?

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Or, people could just learn

Or, people could just learn to share the path. If the path is filled with pedestrians, bikes need to move more slowly -- it means there is traffic, adjust your riding accordingly.

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I spent a lot of time

I spent a lot of time thinking this way (in my case the pedestrians that annoyed me were in the Southwest Corridor), but they I remembered, that as a cyclist, I want the cars to respect my right to the road, that is for drivers to understand it is a shared space, freely usable by all. I can't begrudge walkers the same right to fair treatment. Whether it is called a bikeway or not, it is in fact, a multi-use paved path.

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The bike-path-as-crime-magnet contention is crap.

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Precisely, and precisely the point that I made during the discussion about the proposed Waltham to Sudbury (or beyond) hybrid bike path/express bus route (which I cannot now find). The contention there - that the people of Weston would not stand for a path behind their houses liking them to the criminal element of Waltham (Waltham!?) - was even more absurd than this one. People make it sound like these houses that are "going to be robbed" don't already have roads (for cars - which can carry substantially more stolen goods than bikes) in front of them. Sheesh.

All there is to know about having a bike path nearby can be gleaned from the simple observation that people selling houses along the path always put a for sale sign up on the path side as well as the street side.

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If you're afraid of the city, don't put your town next to it!

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Milton also has parks that say "Milton residents only." I got down there early one day when I was running a therapy group at a group residence there, and noticed said sign when I went to eat my dinner in the park. I used the park anyway though, because really, I was there to work with Milton residents, and isn't it more civilized and community-minded to eat my sandwich in a park instead of outside someone's Milton residence looking like some sort of hobo?

And really, Milton, WTF kind of fear is behind your "residents only" policy on your crappy little poorly maintained park? Am I to assume that none of you use the common or public garden or greenway or parades or state house or anything in the city where I pay taxes?

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Simple

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It's all about racism.

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Ignore what the park says.

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Milton also has parks that say "Milton residents only."

Despite Milton having amazing talking parks, such restrictions are illegal, unless the park is privately owned and/or the Town receives no state local aid funding for its operating budget or recreation grants from the state or federal governents. :-)

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Residents have to pay a fee

We get a sticker for the car and walk-in passes. We can bring non-residents in as guests, as well as book parties with out of town guests.

Always fun to have my teen son texting madly to figure out who can get a walk-in pass and bring which people in so they can swim in a pack and then go raid the food supply of the nearest friend.

The city hires the lifeguards and pays for the maintenance of the facilities. The place is usually quite full, and I can see why it became limited to residents only.

If you want to know what it would look like otherwise, go over to Upper Mystic Lake on a hot evening or weekend day. The place gets overwhelmed by the number of people and the lack of trash pick up.

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Well done

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Despite Milton having amazing talking parks

D'oh!

Hey, Manchester-by-the-Sea has a singing beach.

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Weston all over again.....

Here we go again with these non-sensical claims of crime, just like Weston claimed.

Personally, I don't think the community should be able to overrule something like this. Homeowners didn't want I-95 thru their yards in Norwood, Sharon, etc. years ago, yet there's a road there now. A bike path? Please. This comes up every time and there are no stats supporting it.

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Weston was years ago

Yup, the town of Weston turned down a bike trail 7-8 years ago (I'm too lazy to google it...). Sudbury had a vote last year on a trail and I believe it passed.

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I remember the red line crime fears

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I was a kid in Braintree when they were planning the red line extension and people pulled the "it will bring crime" crap. If I had a dime for every time I was on the train and saw a catburgler with a black knit cap and a sack over his shoulder that had a candelabra sticking out of the top I'd still be a poor man.

The funny thing is very few people had a problem with the South Shore Plaza which is the site of a ton of crime in the town.

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