LETTER: Councilor Concerned About Impact of Proposed Closing of Little Greenough Blvd.

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NOTE: The original letter by Councilor Angeline Kounelis was sent to State Sen. Will Brownsberger when a petition was circulated in August calling for the closing of Greenough Boulevard between North Beacon and Arsenal streets. The Town Council is considering whether to ask the Department of Conservation and Recreation do a pilot program closing “Little Greenough” on weekends this spring, summer and fall.

Will,

Many thanks for taking the time to share the petition, addressed to the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR),that is being circulated to permanently close “Little Greenough Blvd.” to vehicular traffic. I was not aware of the petition.

Open green space and recreation are the ideals that all communities strive to encourage and implement. In the Arsenal St. Corridor area; I tread with great caution when a citizen initiative proposes that a roadway link is closed to vehicular traffic.

The impacts from the pending build-out of Arsenal Yards; and other area developments are unknown. An excerpt from communication that I sent to the Watertown Planning Board on 12/14/2016, references theTransportationImpact Assessmentdocument. Arsenal Yards is anticipated to generate 6000-10000 vehicle trips per day.

“According to the Transportation Impact Assessment document, page one, Executive Summary, the project is expected to generate 6366 additional vehicle trips on an average weekday and 10,648 additional vehicle trips on a Saturday (both are two-way, 24 hour volumes). The prospect of so many vehicles in one concentrated area is overwhelming.”

https://www.watertown-ma.gov/DocumentCenter/View/20375/MPSP-Traffic-Impact-Assessment

Many of us will recall the 01/31/2018 meeting that we attended; coordinated by the City of Boston, MassDOT, DCR and others, to review short and long-term plans for the Western Ave./Soldiers Field Road/Birmingham Pkwy. Intersection. On page forty-four of the document, there is a diversion analysis, onto “Little Greenough”, to alleviate congestion at the intersection and the east bound approach to the Western Ave. Bridge. 

http://www.bostonplans.org/getattachment/ee7e5249-6ed2-4ae2-8e85-0fd4aa5654c5

During conversations,specific to I-CUBED, along with pedestrian enhancements,traffic signals were proposed forboth ends of “Little Greenough”. At this time, status of I-CUBED is unknown.

https://www.watertown-ma.gov/DocumentCenter/View/22707/2017-06-29-ICube-Presentation?bidId=

Herein, I am sharing the information with East Enders to be aware of the implications from ongoing and proposed developments. The answer may not be as straightforward as presented; pros and cons abound. Thank you.

Best,
Angeline B. Kounelis
District A, East End, Town Councilor

9 thoughts on “LETTER: Councilor Concerned About Impact of Proposed Closing of Little Greenough Blvd.

  1. This is a disappointing and shortsighted view. Reclaiming public spaces for the public should be championed. Watertown has so little open space. Riverbend Park in Cambridge is immensely popular. Greenough was very popular this past summer. Cars have other routes they can take. And if it’s less convenient for them, maybe they’ll think of alternative modes of transportation. Watertown should be for people, not for cars.

    • You couldn’t be more wrong, there are ample public, “open” and green spaces available for residents to have at their disposal. Adding Lower Greenough to the already existing miles of public access along the Charles is unnecessary and a poorly thought out waste of infrastructure even if it is only on weekends. IIRC, that section of roadway was just repaved within the last 2-3 years… not for use by cyclists, joggers, inline skaters, etc, but for vehicular traffic.

      Like it or not, motor vehicles are an important and necessary commodity and the need to accommodate their use with as few hassles and headaches as possible should be a priority.

      It’s time for the town to stop caving in to the demands of the 1% – 2% of the cyclists in this town and leaving motorists having to suffer and pay the consequences for the sake of their benefit.

  2. If you are going to keep it open, you need to put traffic lights at both ends (Arsenal and N. Beacon) of the road because the accidents at both intersections are way too high. The more traffic you allow, the more containment you have to have.

    • I believe the traffic lights are part of the I-Cubed improvements, but that project (which was a partnership with athenahealth) is up in the air depending on what the new owners of Arsenal on the Charles do.

  3. Watertown is for people! Do not close the Blvd. please. Perhaps too much building allowed to go on by those who want more space?
    Thank you Councilor for stand up for the people you represent and will be the most impacted.

  4. I disagree.

    There is already plenty of greenspace, walkways, bikepaths, and play space all along the Charles and elsewhere in Watertown and right across the river.

    Watertown is the envy of many towns for that.

    Sometimes I think proposals for closures of roadways have a deeper political context (such as anti-car and global warming), but it would take me too long to go into it all.

  5. The Councilor brings up valid points about traffic. But it is hard to predict how all that will change.

    Despite our riverfront, we are actually a little short on green space in Watertown. Little Greenough could provide a lovely little recreation area.

    Perhaps a slow moving pilot program and study of the results is in order. We must remember that things may be different once the virus is behind us. And life will return to normal–whatever that will be–gradually. Maybe start with weekends, or just Sundays, and monitor both traffic and usage. Also public opinion.

    But there is nothing wrong with maximizing our recreational use of our riverfront. It should be enjoyed as much as possible. Maybe if the pilot experience is positive we can work with DCR to spruce the area up a bit.

  6. Why do traffic patterns and continuous construction take over the concerns for more green space? Greenough Boulevard has the potential to be a jewel for Watertown and neighboring towns. As an extension of the bike and walking paths, Watertown should consider putting time, money, and energy into the revitalization of Greenough Boulevard. Brick walkways, period lighting, and a safe haven for children and adults to walk and bike. Having lived in Watertown for 61 years, let’s not lean on what is best for malls and shoppers. Traffic will never cease in Watertown. Dominating Greenough Boulevard based on traffic patterns will breed irresponsibility of drivers and take away from our only natural resource-The Charles River. Is Arsenal Yards the mall of all malls as promised? Why continue to hand over Watertown to corporations? Residents deserve a space of peace and quiet. Developers have chained this town long enough.

  7. How about doing what they do with Memorial Drive (i.e. close on weekends)? I think that also allows more use of the space for charity events, farmers markets, festivals, etc.).

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