Members of the East Berkeley Neighborhood Association (EBNA) and State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz shared concerns about the condition of the MBTA in the wake of a major subway derailment affecting the Red Line, and also the daily task of dealing with delays on the Silver Line and bus routes.
While residents were clearly frustrated with transportation across the City, the MBTA situation – with two derailments in a short period of time – had riled the EBNA membership.
“I don’t think the governor has shown enough of an urgency in dealing with the challenges at the MBTA,” said Chang-Diaz, who had come to EBNA on Tuesday for her legislative update. “The message I hear is it needs to be managed better and there doesn’t need to be any ore revenues. I’m the first to admit when it’s the legislature’s responsibility, but I think we need to push the governor to be clear with folks and increase the urgency of getting more revenue into the system…This derailment is a market of just how far we’ve let our system slide.”
Member Arthur Coe said it’s impossible to get around.
“It’s an embarrassment,” he said. “You cannot get from one end of the city to the other.”
Added another member, “The response is just not enough. We can’t go on like this. Every time I check my phone, I get texts saying all the buses are running late, the Silver Line is 20 minutes late.”
Chang-Diaz said the problem squarely lies at the foot of Gov. Baker.
She said the Legislature several times has agreed to go forward on more funding for the MBTA, but the governor has not supported those efforts – always saying it needs to be managed better.
“People have to let him know this kind of service is not going to cut it,” she said. “He’s the Teflon governor and he’s very popular with everyone, but people have to let him know this isn’t working.”
•Washington Gateway Changes
The Washington Gateway Main Street (WGMS) program has been through a rough patch the last two years, but South End native Andrew Maydoney has taken the reins of the organization and hopes to steer it in a thriving direction, he told EBNA members.
He said WGMS is looking to turn the corner onto Harrison Avenue.
“One thing we’re looking at doing is rounding the corner on Washington Street and coming down Harrison Avenue so we can interact more directly with East Berkeley and the businesses here,” he said. “Our organization has had a very difficult time in recent years with a lot of turnover and we’re also looking for board members here…Currently, your neighborhood is in a buffer zone for us. We’re trying to expand that zone on both ends of Washington Street.”
He said they are very interested in the SoWa Art + Design District, and have already made a move to locate an office at 450 Harrison Ave.
That office will be used for small businesses and entrepreneurs in the neighborhood looking to get a start.
Additionally, on the other end of Washington Street, he said they are starting a campaign called ‘Crossing the Line.’
“Massachusetts Avenue is a demarcation line for the neighborhood that people don’t cross,” he said. “Lower Roxbury has been woefully ignored in Washington Gateway’s history. That’s on our agenda to correct.”
Maydoney lives in Hyde Park now, but his family came to the South End’s Gray Street from Ukraine years ago. He grew up on Gray Street, but moved to Mattapan during his school years. He worked for a long time as a vice president of a brand marketing company on Blackstone Square, so he knows the business community on Washington Street very well, he said.
•Whole Foods Traffic
Representatives from Whole Foods appeared to speak to the membership about persistent problems in the parking lot and at the entrance to the market.
Chris, of Whole Foods, said they are using a valet service, and especially during busy times of the week and year. However, she said they are stuck in the 110-space lot that is provided.
John Connelly, of EBNA, said it’s too bad everyone is fighting the situation because he and others in EBNA begged for more parking on-site for the market.
National Development’s Ted Tye said they had wanted to have more parking for the Market as well, but got pushback from the City to scale back the lot.
Chris said she would look at possibly using off-site valet parking at the Tufts lot for customers. Most employees understand at hiring that there is no parking, but senior staff at the store have 35 passes to park under the Expressway.
She stressed no employees are to park in the lot, though Amazon Shoppers are allowed because they are customers.
Tye said the problems at the entrance won’t be solved until after the City rebuilds Harrison Avenue. He said the understanding was that project would be completed by the time Whole Foods opened, but it has been delayed many times in order to accommodate new projects that have come along.
He said he is lobbying the City not to wait for the completion of the upcoming 321 Harrison Ave. office building project to start the rebuild. It appears that might have some traction, he said.
EBNA has chosen to meet on the first Tuesday of the month starting in September, and will have a Sept. 3 meeting in the fall.