Southenders Mobilizing to Save Trees on Melnea Cass

A funny thing happened on the way to reconstructing Melnea Cass Boulevard – somehow the City arrived at the idea of chopping down hundreds of trees.

While City leaders have promoted the long-planned Melnea Cass re-design, and are preparing to put the project out to bid in August, several South End residents are ready to rally to save trees on the corridor that are slated to be cut down.

Ken Kruckemeyer said he is calling for residents to mobilize for a community stand-out on the corner of the Boulevard and Washington Street this Saturday, July 13, from 9-11 a.m.

“They have really ignored the input from the neighborhood for the whole eight years this project has been discussed,” he said. “They made small changes. The basic issue of crossing the street from one side of Lower Roxbury to the other side has not improved at all. The idea was to slow down traffic to make it safer and to save the trees. At the public meeting in 2011 on this, one of the first things people said was to save the trees.”

That input first morphed into cutting down about 200 of the mature, 30-year-old trees. Then that was reduced to 100, and then to 50. Now, Kruckemeyer said it is back up to 100 and maybe more.

“When push comes to shove, if they would just re-design with the existing footprint and the new signals they say they need, they could do that without any impact on the existing trees,” he said. “The bid goes out in August, so there is still time to rally.

“The City should not advertise this project until corrections are made to satisfy the people’s concerns,” he continued. “A design that stays within the existing curbs can save nearly all the trees. New signals can increase safety and convenience for pedestrians. The two-way bikeway can be updated and will remain safely away from the roadway. And the construction should only take a few months.”

The City contends that it needs to cut down 101 trees to make way for a new roadway that will accommodate one-way bike paths in either direction.

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