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Small street in Roslindale Square to be shut, turned into permanent pedestrian plaza

Birch Street rendering

Renderng of what Birch Street could look like, from the mayor's office.

The mayor's office announced today that Birch Street, a tiny, narrow street that lets motorists circle from Belgrade Avenue back to Belgrade Avenue, will be shut permanently by next summer to create a pedestrian plaza.

The city had shut the street for a week in May to determine if the proposal could work.

The city hired an architectural firm, Merritt Chase, to work with the city, Roslindale Village Main Street and business owners on the short street to come up with the plan.

In a statement, Mayor Walsh said, "This project will make Roslindale Village even more vibrant, and we look forward to similarly transforming more street space at locations throughout our neighborhoods."

One of the business owners, Adam Shutes, owner of the Boston Cheese Cellar (located next to a wine shop, of course), praised the proposal: ""The pedestrianization of Birch Street will give residents and visitors a safe and appealing place to sit, interact, and relax as they visit the neighborhood. It will help strengthen Roslindale's social fabric, be a source of pride, and no doubt grow into a space which will host more events, such as the Fall Festival and Holiday Market."

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Comments

Sorry yoganauts, public spaces are for the public.

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Voting closed 18

Totes awesome this is, braheem. Something all 61seveners can be proud of no doubt yo’.

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Voting closed 4

Technically, one cannot take the stretch of Birch to get from South to South. A short trip on Corinth is needed.

I write this knowing that one can take South Street from Washington Street (by Forest Hills) to Washington Street (by Healy Field) and that the street, as a whole, runs from Centre Street to Centre Street.

Other than that, if the businesses are happy and the residents are happy, let's all be happy about this.

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Voting closed 21

I believe this stretch of Birch runs from Corinth to Belgrade Ave., not South St.

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Voting closed 6

Sorry about that, and thanks for the correction. I've fixed the original post (for some reason, I was thinking South continued to Corinth, but it ends at the entrance to the train-station parking lot).

Yes, technically, it starts at Corinth Street, even I knew that, but it does let you basically go from Belgrade to Belgrade (via a short ride that includes a tiny bit of Corinth).

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Voting closed 5

Excellent! Pedestrian only, NO wheels allowed unless you're in a wheelchair of course. We pedestrians need a break from dodging rude motorists and cyclists! The little people win a small victory!

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Voting closed 15

In a statement, Mayor Walsh said, "This project will make Roslindale Village even more vibrant, and we look forward to similarly transforming more street space at locations throughout our neighborhoods."

Maybe this will be done to Centre St. in West Roxbury. I would be for it if it means I never have to hear the words "road diet" ever again.

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Voting closed 1

Yes it's just a kid, but if you're looking for a bike-free nirvana, this may not be it.

(Can't wait for Distraction to open.)

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Voting closed 4

There is a bike lane on Belgrade, so having bicyclists use this block makes as much sense as having motorists use it.

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Voting closed 5

It doesn't feed well in to Corinth St. If you follow it from South on to Belgrade, you'll find it quickly disappears in favor of a right hand side sharrow, one that leads to either Roberts or continuing on to the resumed Belgrade bike lane after that intersection. But if you want to go left on to Corrinth, you have to merge across two lanes of traffic, then depending on where you want to be on Corinth, you have to merge across two lanes again. It would certainly be easier as a cyclist to navigate that by cutting through Birch St. I try to avoid mixing in pedestrian zones, so I would never do it, but the dangerous configuration on Belgrade leaves me needing to go the wrong way down the Village Market parking lot, which is in itself not all that save either, just better than taking Belgrade. So while I agree with people saying bikes shouldn't be there, I want to be sure people understand why a cyclist might choose to be there.

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Voting closed 5

You’ve just given the automobile driver’s reason for opposing this.

Well done, but if the Village Market cut through is good for some wheeled means of transportation, why can’t it be used by others?

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Voting closed 1

I'm describing a completely different thing from what cars do, as Birch St. is one way, heading from Corinth toward Belgrade. I just think you are wrong that it couldn't be useful to bikes. If you don't yourself bike, you might not see what I'm saying, but try riding through some time and you'll realize the current configuration is not very bike friendly at all.

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Voting closed 9

Specifically, I saw this-

dangerous configuration on Belgrade leaves me needing to go the wrong way down the Village Market parking lot, which is in itself not all that save either, just better than taking Belgrade.

And heard drivers griping about not being able to use Birch as a cut through. I mean, other than the 10 spaces, that's the only possible gripe drivers would have. Just start using the Village Market cut through. Also, that cut through theoretically is one way from Corinith to South, which means you'll be going the proper direction. It doesn't look like the hardest thing, and I walk that a lot. Would the extra 200 feet really be a burden on you?

I have a Blue Bikes membership, but I usually am only going Forest Hills to the Square (or between two other points to the north of Forest Hills.)

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Voting closed 5

We could get the city to actually pedestrianize Washington and Winter/Summer in Downtown Crossing, rather than the current halfway situation where it's unsafe to walk in the street due to all the cabs and delivery vehicles.

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Voting closed 11

... extend it up to Kneeland and throughout Chinatown.

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Voting closed 7

Yeah, who needs the Silver Line anyway? And Kneeland could use the extra traffic.

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Voting closed 7

I like the idea of using this space for temporary events, but taking access away from cars (ie parking spots) on a permanent basis is just short-sighted. During the day, people park there to visit local stores, barber shops, etc. They have already limited parking to one spot in front of Sebastian's, where are their customers gong to park now? And when we have freezing cold weather and snowbanks for half of the year, how many hip events will be held in front of the cheese shop?

Why not bump out the sidewalk on the cheese shop side and keep parking on one side? what is the aversion to cars?

This will no doubt hurt business for a neighborhood institution like Sebastian's Barber Shop by taking away valuable parking spaces - all for the sake of catering to a new (niche) business like the cheese shop.

Again, I like the idea for temp use, but this space will be a ghost town for the majority of the time. Last time I checked, people wont likely be outside in 15 degree temps, eating brie cheese at 10:30AM, on a Tuesday, in February, in the snow.

but "pedestrianization", and bikes, farmers markets.....

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Voting closed 42

If you want to live in a place full of cars, go to the suburbs. I hear Walmart has lots of parking.

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Voting closed 42

People can park on Belgrade, South St, muni lot behind Citizen's Bank, in the MBTA lots, or Roberts St, etc... I'd bet that some of these spots are used by employees of businesses in the square to boot so it's not like they're often open.

Something seasonal like the parklet by Fornax could work too. Put up planters on each end each April 1 and take them away on Nov 1 or something to allow parking then.

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Voting closed 21

I am good with temporary, just makes no sense to have all of those spaces taken on a permanent basis. cant imagine many people hitting up mid-week, mid-day, mid-winter, outdoor yoga classes.

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Voting closed 20

Keeping in mind that its currently a free 2-hour limit, whats a market-rate fee that you think recognizes how valuable and desired these spots are?

Again, if you want free and abundant car storage for your convenience, move to the suburbs.

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Voting closed 18

Newsflash - local businesses need local patrons - and that includes people who drive. Also, people in cities use cars - so get off the suburb hangup. If you took time to speak with local business owners, you would find that a lot of their patrons come from JP, and other parts of Rozzie, and West Roxbury, etc. not everyone walks or has a bike - and that is OK.

And speaking of value, what will the "value" of this area be when it is completely empty during the week, in winter,....and nobody is able to park there to visit local businesses? I'm sure you will you be there sitting in the snow right?

seems you just have some sort of deep rooted anger toward cars from when you grew up in the burbs. deeps breaths - you will be fine.

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Voting closed 31

No ones using them in the winter, better off setting it aside for car storage obviously.

Others seems to point out that the buisnesses on Birth st brought this idea forward, you said its being rammed through by the city. So whats the actual truth there.

What are we losing here, 10 spots? If you're gonna make economic impact arguments, at least bring receipts or similar studies on the impacts of getting rid of on-street parking:

https://www.citylab.com/solutions/2015/03/the-complete-business-case-for...

https://copenhagenize.eu/news-archive/2019/3/14/the-benefits-of-car-free...

Yeah, I'll make a point to go there this winter, I try to get down to Roslindale from time to time and I love checking out new infra and car-free streets that city tries. Weird, I don't like designing neighborhoods solely around cars, so heres a project taking steps to correct that, yay!

You still haven't answered about a fair market rate fee to store cars on this valuable public property.

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Voting closed 11

Who better to know what is best for a neighborhood than someone who doesn't live here? absolutely classic

Swing and a miss!. Fallon Field is used in all seasons - baseball in summer, sledding in winter - it works there. But Adams Park is almost always empty. Why can't the city try programming in existing open spaces (like Adams Park)? and prove the concept before taking parking spaces from other areas already in use.

"Fair market value for car storage", haha, "car storage"?, on earth we call it parking. People drive cars, people drive cars to do business with business owners, they either pay a meter or have a two-hour window to do so, then they move along. It's really pretty simple to understand when you aren't blinded by some really strange hatred for cars - it's just odd.

Also remind me of the fee you are paying to take up valuable space when riding your bike/scooter/rollerblades in from the suburbs? - and what about all of that space you occupy when walking down the sidewalk? - it's valuable.

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Voting closed 10

So that would kinda be "heading down" for me specifically, sorry if thats not the right phrase I guess? Oh but I don't actually LIVE there, didn't visit dad there at work over the years, so can't have any opinions or love for that part of town, nope, can't have that. Nice deflection but well wide of the net.

You know whats really funny? Multiple people on this thread have told you businesses on Birch St. were part of the planning of this, their was a pilot done to prove the concept and the city acted on it, just to spite motorists or the local businesses or whatever.

Fine we can call it free parking. But you said it was really valuable and in high demand, shouldn't it priced accordingly? Weird that I want some fiscal responsibility surrounding public space and storage of private vehicles.

Oh you brought up taxes, how delicious! Get back to me when motorists aren't subsidized by the rest of society.

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Voting closed 3

It's clear this isn't about the creation of new space (and I am sure it will actually be pretty cool), for you it's all about removing the evil cars. You evidently have some (very odd) feelings toward cars - and a habit of telling g anyone who drives to "go to the suburbs" - dude, its weird.

Value, high demand, pricing.....what the actual hell are you talking about? It's a street, people park there - or at least they used to.

Bike on brah, down with the cash! Rule the "public space", er, I mean streets.

Wow.

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Voting closed 2

Whats not to love about it?!

Value, high demand, pricing.....what the actual hell are you talking about? It's a street, people park there - or at least they used to.

I'm just talking about the exact things you've conjured up on this thread:

This will no doubt hurt business for a neighborhood institution like Sebastian's Barber Shop by taking away valuable parking spaces

So shouldn't those spaces be priced properly to reflect that value? Whats so offensive to you about pricing and planning parking on supply and demand? Doesn't seem very fiscally responsible to me.

You've made economic arguments, car storage arguments, public spaces in the winter arguments and community support arguments. Its been shown to you with lots of data how benefical car-free streets can be, that theres parking elsewhere in the area, that people still use public spaces when its cold and that the majority of feedback was in support of this project.

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Voting closed 9

And don't have a problem with it.

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Voting closed 6

Pretty Hyde Parkish over there on the lofty heights.

Your neighborhood should be defined by where you would go to French toast supplies in a snow storm - i.e. closest vendor of basic foods.

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Voting closed 5

It's not that much parking being lost- maybe 10 spaces. There are other, better places to park.

Also, I'm fairly certain Guy would have raised a stink if he felt this would impact Sebastians too much. If business falls off much, perhaps the local businesses will ask the city to revisit this. As it is, they seem to support this move.

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Voting closed 22

This whole plan was rammed through - Business owners weren't really consulted on the the validity of the entire idea, rather they were consulted on design options.

Again, nobody can answer this question - how will this space be used when it is cold, snowing, icy, etc? we live in the Northeast and that is a reasonable question to ask. This space will be a ghost town. Just take a look at Adams Park - other than the farmers markets on sat and a tree lighting once a year, the place is empty. fact.

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Voting closed 17

Haven't spoken to Guy, but when I signed the petition supporting pedestrianization, it was the copy being passed around his shop, so I assume he favors the change.

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Voting closed 10

Things should go well. In addition to being used all the time in the summer, people use it passively (sitting on the benches) in all but the coldest times.

As for a project being rammed through, I suggest you read the Roslindale West Roxbury Bulletin more (or for a start.). You know that suggested project that the chorus of non-West Roxbury residents think is a no brainer? Well, it seems the business owners of West Roxbury are raising hackles about it. That’s how these things work. A plan is proposed, and if there is opposition, they will make themselves known. As it is, I only see opposition by anonymous people on the internet.

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Voting closed 12

You helped to solidify my entire point. Why close a street permanently when it simply won't be used for the proposed purpose for a significant amount of the year. They could have developed a set schedule of programming on a part-time basis and closed the street then.

And please keep mentioning the center street road diet. Traffic calming is greatly needed but one lane in each direction is a terrible idea.

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Voting closed 5

In addition to being used all the time in the summer, people use it passively (sitting on the benches) in all but the coldest times.

(bold for emphasis.)

It's a park that can be used 10 months out of 12, and even in those other two hearty folk would still use it.

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Voting closed 6

This whole plan was rammed through - Business owners weren't really consulted on the the validity of the entire idea, rather they were consulted on design options.

The idea itself was promoted by the businesses that front on Birch St itself. All of them are for it and pushed for this. There were some reservations by others nearby but not directly abutting as you correctly note. But there was a lengthy feedback period and a lot of feedback came in from Sebastian's - most of it negative. So be it, that's their right and they were heard. No one rammed anything through - there was a years-long process of piloting and feedback. The response overall from the business community and residents was positive though and so it moves forward. If it had been the opposite, it would have likely died.

Again, nobody can answer this question - how will this space be used when it is cold, snowing, icy, etc? we live in the Northeast and that is a reasonable question to ask. This space will be a ghost town. Just take a look at Adams Park - other than the farmers markets on sat and a tree lighting once a year, the place is empty. fact.

If the standard is 24/7/365 activity, then we should shut down every park in the city during winter too. That is not how we do or should judge these spaces. I think it's self-evident that most people won't be sitting in the plaza when it's below zero or two feet of snow on the ground. I also don't think that's a fair comparison. I'll also note there is a successful winters market on Birch Street every year when it's usually very cold out in December, so the space can be used for programming then too if we're just creative about it.

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Voting closed 16

Thanks for telling it straight - there was a lot of negative feedback. Look, I am all for using the space in a variety of ways, but when a longtime business like Sebastian's (really a staple in Rozzie Square for 35+ years) voices concerns about a plan pushed forward by newer businesses (on a strip that has seen serious turnover - fact), I see a real problem with that.

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Voting closed 4

Why don't we just build on Adams Park, put bike lanes all around it, and make it a Velodrome.
Poor Irving Adams had a park named after him for being the first soldier killed in WWI. When I was a kid Adams Park ad an elderly man named Tom who kept the e place immaculate.
I am sure Marty Walsh will want to build on that land soon. Got to have those moderate income Apartments.

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Voting closed 1

"Just 10 spaces" doesn't mean much by itself.

A suburban Walmart going from 500 to 490 spaces would see no impact.

A small store with no off-street parking where many customers come from outside walking distance losing 10 out of the only 12 metered spaces in the area would have a huge problem. (Hello, Skenderian Apothecary.)

This situation is somewhere in the middle. Other parking is available, but it's not as convenient.

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Voting closed 7

what is the aversion to cars?

You must be new.

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Voting closed 10

The businesses on Birch St are the ones who brought this forward. They seem to think it’ll improve their standing. Maybe not in the deep freeze of February but overall yes.

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Voting closed 22

This mean even more drivers will cut through at Village Market.

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Voting closed 11

Cutting through village market lot gets you onto South where you can access the bank entrance and the back way to the public parking lot. Also the bottom MBTA lot. Taking the left on Birch does nothing but turn you around onto Belgrade going back towards where you came from.

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Voting closed 5

But muh car!

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Voting closed 9

Presumably this only applies to the section between Belgrade and Corinth, and not the rest of the street that extends to Durnell.

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Voting closed 3

Birch Street is better as a pedestrian plaza. Parking on Birch was always difficult anyways. There were few spaces. Plus it's narrow on the street curves, making parallel parking difficult. My only concern is if closing Birch Street will have the unintended consequence of increasing traffic cutting between Corinth Street and South Street by using the alley between Family Dollar and the Village Market. I've already seen accidents in that parking lot.

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Voting closed 8

It likely will but that is a privately-owned parking lot. Village Market can enforce it if they want to. It's not a public way.

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Voting closed 1

Cars or no cars on Birch Street do not make much difference for the business owners.

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Voting closed 2

Did you ever ask Gus? at Sebastians ( I used to their a while back) or say Sullivan's Pharmacy what they think of the new proposal? You posted this I assume you did your homework and they are all on board.

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Voting closed 9