City Budget Capital Plan Focuses on Parks, Road Improvements in South End, Back Bay

Within Mayor Martin Walsh’s $2.08 billion Capital plan, filed late last week, there are several measures that include funding proposals for South End, Bay Village and Back Bay,

Funding in the Capital Plan, however, does not mean money is dedicated in the current proposed budget, unless otherwise mentioned, but rather that the projects are included in a five-year pipeline of projects to be funded.

On April 13, Walsh presented his $2.08 billion proposed Fiscal Year 2018 – Fiscal Year 2022 (FY18-FY22) Capital Plan, which makes critical investments in the City’s infrastructure in every Boston neighborhood, guided by Boston’s citywide plan, Imagine Boston 2030. With the City’s planning efforts well underway, Mayor Walsh is proposing to maximize the use of all resources available for capital investment in this year’s plan. Citywide, the initiatives included in this Capital Plan will move Boston residents’ priorities from idea to action by:

  • Investing $1 billion over ten years to bring Boston’s school buildings into the 21st century;
  • Implementing core initiatives outlined in Go Boston 2030 to strive for streets that are safer, travel that is more reliable, and transportation choices that will interconnect our neighborhoods;
  • Carrying out Imagine Boston 2030 open space goals to invest in the City’s public parks by leveraging Winthrop Square sale proceeds, City capital dollars and external funds;
  • Improving quality of life for residents by enabling affordable housing development through public infrastructure projects;
  • Demonstrating the City’s leadership and commitment to sustainable funding for the arts through the Percent for Art program, which will support the commissioning of public art.

“This Capital Plan prioritizes investments in Boston’s neighborhoods and is a direct reflection of the feedback we received from thousands of residents who contributed ideas to our planning processes,” said Walsh. “I am proud that we are able to put the wheels in motion to begin investing in projects that are important to Boston’s people, and that will prepare our City for a year of groundbreaking success.”

Some of the items in the funding pipeline this year for the South End/Bay Village include:

  • A $2 million renovation of Ramsay Park including the play lot, basketball courts, tennis courts, plazas, passive areas and lighting. These improvements came after local youth groups from St. Stephens Youth Programs advocated for park improvements to deter negative activity.
  • $28 million from the Winthrop garage sale proceeds to augment the current historic levels of investment in Boston Common to fully renovate America’s First Park. This investment will ensure future generations will enjoy the park in its full vibrancy.
  • An investment of $379,117 allocated in FY18 for the design of the South End Fitness Center Pool renovations to install a rain screen wall and add ventilation; replace doors and exterior windows, and repair pool;
  • $3.8 million investment for road reconstruction improvements to Harrison Avenue, which are critical to economic development activity along the corridor between East Berkeley Street and Herald Street;
  • $1.75 million to conduct roadway improvements including resurfacing, pavement markings and new traffic signals to Washington Street from East Berkeley to Herald Street, and Traveler Street.
  • $1.35 million investment in Woods Mullen Shelter.
  • $100,000 investment in Peters Park.
  • $150,000 renovation at South End Library Park.
  • $1.98 million for improvements to Titus Sparrow Park.

For the Back Bay, the following projects were listed in the Capital Budget:

  • A $15.7M multi-year investment in a full renovation project for the Rare Books and Manuscripts Department to help preserve the Library’s valuable and historic special collections.This project will begin with the inventory of the nearly 250,000 rare books and one million manuscripts and then provide major environmental and mechanical improvements to better regulate temperature and humidity control of the department’s collection storage areas, staff spaces, conservation lab, and public reading room. Ultimately, the project will increase accessibility to the Library’s rare books and manuscripts and ensure the collections will be preserved for the future.
  • A $1.46 million multi-year investment to repair and upgrade existing pathways in Boston Public Garden.
  • A $1.09 million multi-year investment in the Public Garden Lagoon to repair and backfill missing, destroyed and leaking granite coping surrounding the lagoon.
  • A $150,000 investment in FY18 for the redesign of the Boston Common Tadpole Play Lot which will include new play equipment, safety surfacing and site furnishings.
  • A $2.26 million new investment for the design and construction of sidewalk and/or streetscape improvements on Boylston Street. Phasing will begin with the Dartmouth Street to Exeter Street block with $560,000 being allocated in this year’s budget.
  • A $18 million investment to replace the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge over Commonwealth Avenue.

Citywide, under the Imagine Boston 2030 umbrella, the City is investing in the core goals of BuildBPS, Go Boston 2030, Boston Creates, and Climate Ready Boston. An estimated 77 percent of the investment in the FY18-22 Capital Plan is aligned with the City’s planning efforts. In order to more expeditiously address the City’s investment aspirations, Mayor Walsh has increased planned borrowings by 22.5 percent over last year’s plan, leveraged one-time funding sources including Winthrop Square Garage sale proceeds and the Parking Meter Fund surplus balance, and advanced the City’s usage of the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) Accelerated Repair Program.

The Capital Budget complements Mayor Walsh’s proposed FY`18 operating budget, which was released two weeks ago.

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