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Turning American Legion Highway into a parkway could start with changing its name

City councilors are working with residents along American Legion Highway to preserve "urban wilds" along the road and ultimately create a more bucolic stretch out of what at-large Councilor Steve Murphy says is now a "blighted" area.

One of the first steps could be changing the name of the road, which runs between Hyde Park Avenue and Blue Hill Avenue, to American Legion Parkway.

Murphy and Councilor Charles Yancey, whose district now includes large parts of the road, said the city has for decades treated the road and neighbors with disrespect, from tearing down most of the trees along it to siting a city light-pole storage area off it.

Last year, Eversource bought up some 12 acres of land on a hilltop behind the Stop & Shop, and the city DPW acquired 8 more, with no input from nearby residents.

Murphy and at-large Councilor Michelle Wu recently called for work to preserve the existing green spaces along the road and to look at longer term projects that Murphy said could eventually mean something more akin to VFW Parkway in West Roxbury, if with more stores.

A long-term vision for the road sees it becoming an extension to the Emerald Necklace:

This project will include the opportunity for parks, off-street bike and pedestrian paths along the open 4,500 foot Canterbury Brook, a 5,000 feet section of Stony Brook’s conduit easement, a panoramic vista along a 60 foot high bluff, as well as pathways through urban wilds, parks, and cemeteries.

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Comments

Where the ______ have you been?

Please don't put bike paths, you'll price out the neighborhood once the middle aged hipsters show up on their Cannondales. The area has a lot of potential, and i agree it should remain for the most part green space.

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I'm already in Roslindale, just on the other side of Washington St. And I ride an old bike I bought at Bikes Not Bombs, so my hipster status is off the charts.

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Not exactly small-batch or vintage, you know.

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Using car infra to block gentrification is extremely messed up. You might as well run barbed wire and trenches along this stretch. So no one can enjoy it. Jerk.

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You probably mentioned barbed wire as something unthinkable, and it should be. There's actually a large church on American Legion that bought an old Verizon building and has never bothered to take down the barbed wire fence or the rusted guardrails or do any landscaping. Removal of run-down, unnecessary fences would go a long way in beautifying American Legion and the residential streets off of it. There is far less crime in this area than in Jamaica Plain, but the appearances help perpetuate a destructive myth.

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It's too late; I'm already here. I will use the hips I have to ride my Torker to commute to work.

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I'm a middle aged guy on a cannondale, I'm already here commuting down the highway every morning. Wouldn't you rather I had a nice path to ride down as to allow me to stay the hell out of your way while you are driving?

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You already have a nice bike lane. I want you to not take over pedestrian infrastructure and mow us down while we're walking, and you know any improvement to bike facilities is going to come at the expense of pedestrians.

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For some reasons, the lanes come and go. The oddest one is that the lane disappears by the old Zayres strip mall, even though the space is there. Same thing at the Red Tail Bridge (an upside of running the road is the ability to read the sign)

But you're right about the space issue. I suppose they could get easements to turn the sidewalks into shared use paths, but the space needed isn't slight.

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Check out the plans. The proposed multi use bike/ped path is separate from the current sidewalks.

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got that funded and designed yet?

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That's how I read this. This is an endgame to name something after Menino I gander at the expense of WWI veterans. You could change the name to Rue Flynn or Avenue Boston Strong and it is still going to have a Wendy's, a car wash, and a crappy supermarket. Young aspiring automotive users are still going to fly down the street in souped up Hondas. Don't change the name until well after you attend to what the road needs.

How about maintaining it well like VFW parkway is or the JWay is? Keep the trees properly trimmed, cut the grass in the summer, do some traffic calming.

A name change is a name change and nothing will change if the hard stuff isn't done first. That's it. 35 years ago Templeton Street in Dorchester had a bad reputation. The name of the street was changed to Monsignor Patrick J. Lydon Way. 35 years later Monsignor Patrick J. Lydon Way, with the benefit of nothing more of a window dressing name change, still has a bad reputation.

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No, this is not a gambit to name something after Menino. The current city council is never going to acknowledge him in the form of a building or statue. It's probably telling that they're still working on a tribute to Ray Flynn, even though Flynn is still with us while Menino isn't.

The only thing they're talking about in terms of the name is changing "Highway" to "Parkway." You know, like they did over on Truman Highway.

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City Councilors Hate The Sacrifice of Our Veterans

That sounds like a perfectly reasonable position, and not something a total moron would say.

How about maintaining it well like VFW parkway

And how does your intelligent, reasonable theory account for the fact that the VFW Parkway is well-maintained and not in danger of having its name changed?

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I was trying to give the Herald an idea for their headline on the story,

VFW Parkway is seemingly very well maintained whilst ALH is not. It hasn't helped that the state left their land to go to seed for years around the old Boston State and the city has come in a close second with their areas.

Millions were wasted building that parking lot off of the intersection of Morton and ALH for the perceived thousands of visitors that were supposed to flock to the zoo once the Gorilla exhibit opened up. The area has been neglected and I hope the City Council stays out of the way and let's the people on the ground come up with a plan first before some Politburo 5 Year Plan is approved.

I hope the stakeholders on the ground; the city, the state, the cemeteries, the residents, and the business community can pull something out of this but remember, cities need places to put buses, electric substations, lie down yards, and gas transmission stations as well as Urban Wilds (Franklin Park isn't big enough?)

I hope people realize if they want lots of trees over what the rest of the city needs, they can always move to Norfolk.

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I'm used to "jokes" that contain some element of "humor".

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Why do you park in a driveway and drive in a parkway?

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Gold, Jerry. Gold.

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The city needs its infrastructure, but no neighborhood should have to bear more than their fair share of it.

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Lynnway South..........

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...but your point is correct.

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I like American Legion Highway. One of my favorite long runs takes me on the road from Blue Hill Ave to Cummins Highway, so I am one of the odd folk who experience the road by foot. There's land already developed, with single family houses, subsidized housing, 2 strip malls, and other private land. By and large the undeveloped land is either in government hands or cemeteries. Even the Eversource reference is to something not adjacent to the roadway. I wouldn't mind if it was spruced up, but it is not a bad area all in all. The trees are nice, and the desolate area between Walk Hill and Morton Street have an almost rustic vibe.

The best I can figure is that the residents that are upset that the T is thinking about putting in a bus yard over by Morton Street are pushing this to get the project stopped before it gets going. I've got nothing to base this on, but it's the only possible end game I see.

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I've spoken to Lisa and Rick about what they're pushing for. Their contact information is at the bottom of the blog post that Adam linked to, and if you're really curious I'm sure they'd be more than happy to speak with you and even take you on a bike tour of the areas they're most interested in protecting.

I may not have the details correct, but the bottom line is that there are some green spaces in the area that are not yet protected and could be, and the bus yard isn't the only one they're concerned about. They would also like to improve their neighborhood's access to the nearby Emerald Necklace; currently the corridor is heavily car-oriented and they see opportunities to improve bicycle and pedestrian access to the nearby open spaces. While you may like the American Legion Highway, I think you are correct that you are unusual in that you experience it by foot. I can't blame residents of the area for wanting to make doing so a more pleasant experience.

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I like American Legion Highway. One of my favorite long runs takes me on the road...

Me too! One of my favorite runs comes up Hyde Park Ave, right on American Legion Highway, and then into Franklin Park at the last entrance before Blue Hill Ave. Except for the strip mall and Guard facility between Mt Hope and Canterbury, the whole thing feels a lot like a parkway already. Like you say, it has a rustic vibe, with the cemeteries, greenhouses, community gardens, Franklin Park, and the Audubon place lining most of the length.

I say go ahead and rename it as a parkway, and maybe protect some additional parcels if they need it. But otherwise leave it alone. It seems to be taking care of itself. (And for crying out loud, don't replace the protected sidewalk with a bike path or "mixed use" bicycle speedway.)

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As far as I know, they're not proposing any changes to the existing sidewalk. I think they envision a separate bike path. From the blog post:

This project will include the opportunity for parks, off-street bike and pedestrian paths along the open 4,500 foot Canterbury Brook, a 5,000 feet section of Stony Brook’s conduit easement, a panoramic vista along a 60 foot high bluff, as well as pathways through urban wilds, parks, and cemeteries.

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A key piece is missing from this report, Adam. As I understand it, the residents want to re-designate American Legion to a Parkway to obtain the protections of a Greenbelt Protection Overlay District (GPOD) that go with it. A GPOD subjects proposed development to more scrutiny and limitations with the intent to protect green space within the zone. It's not just a semantic change they are seeking with the street name. They say the road was changed to "highway" in preparation for the Southwest Expressway that of course never happened.

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Yes, there are things they can do quickly - such as changing the name - and things that will take time. My apologies for being too terse with the description of the long-term stuff in my original post.

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American Legion is already designated a Greenbelt protection overlay district, and you can see clear maps of this on the BRA website. What has been and is happening is willful violation of that, zero enforcement, and disinterest on the part of our representatives. Ditto regarding waterway and wetland protection act regs. Canterbury Brook is a 4,500 foot open brook that would be considered a treasure and a destination in other neighborhoods.

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Those green spaces and windy roads will grow the economy and ensure Boston is a leader in windy green roads in this century. Business will flock to the windy green roads and bring millions of jobs, new schools, housing, .........

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My late father and grandparents often discussed the process that was undertaken to build that roadway and name it. Before American Legion Highway all you had was the winding Canterbury Street which now crosses the straightened-route in several places.

Not everyone will remember (or know) that the land now occupied by housing near the "Police Post," the compsot business, and the Audubon Nature Center, was at one time occupied by the State Hospital where mentally ill patients were housed, drug addiction was treated, contagious diseases were sequestered, and in its day, mentally retarded people were warehoused before there was a concept of mainstreaming and group homes. In fact cutting through the State Hospital ground as a short cut to Morton Street was really popular up till the place closed and you had to drive around. Hardly a "blighted" area but one with a specialized purpose.

The new highway served many needs. Indeed how many people even know the shopping plaza from Simcos to McD's was at one time the town dump?

The naming process was undertaken by many veterans groups and not just local chapters of the American Legion, of which there were many in those days, with many having disbanded over time. Still, that does not lessen, nor should it lessen, the fact that it was an effort by veterans to get some kind of recognition. Even in those days it was a hard thing to come by. The name was opposed in many circles and by many special interests. Special interest? Hmmmm...

As a person who has a local street intersection named after my great-grand uncle who died in WWI, and who passed just a short time after Irving Adams (as in Adams Park in Roslindale SQ), the name "American Legion" needs to stay as a matter of respect and historical significance.

It would be a matter of disrespect to those who fought for us, and those who put so much time and effort in both getting that straight road built, and then named for the sponsors. Such would be a tragedy.

There is far too much going on to rename so much in Roslindale by recent transplants with little regard for those families that have grown up here for generations, and many fo whom do not interact in social or other on-line media. As such they don't know what is happening. "Inclusion" is a word that seems to have escaped the lexicon in use.

Yes, I'm an old fart and it is, will, and always be ROSLINDALE SQUARE. The "village" is where the idiot lives. Not that long ago I ran a poll on Facebook asking if it was "square" or village. Square won at 365 to 5. Hint.

So... American Legion Highway. I remember when it stopped at Cummins Highway and the Stop & Shop plaza didn't exist. It was a rock quarry.

Keep the name. We all know where it is.

Anyone here ever run the 1/4 mile drag race there? ((snicker))

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The American Legion part is, and were that to change, even the pacifists would be up in arms.

The Cummins to Blue Hill section is very much a parkway, comparable to most parkways in the area. Of course, changing the highway to parkway would be cosmetic, but not the worst crime.

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They're clearly talking about changing "Highway" to "Parkway." No one is talking about getting rid of American Legion on the name.

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