The JP Gazette this week published an interview with John R. Connolly and Martin J. Walsh, the two finalist candidates for Mayor of Boston, touching on local matters including the important Casey Arborway project.
Gazette article here
Mr. Connolly states his preferences bluntly and straightforwardly: “I like the at-grade solution overall. I think we have to make the at-grade work.” He said that he does “not think the state is serious about a bridge option”
and said he wants to make sure that the community’s voice is put first. #ArborwayMatters applauds his stance.
It appears that Mr. Walsh has altered his position on the Casey Arborway project since late August. Prior to the mayoral primary vote several weeks ago, Walsh jumped to the forefront of this issue in a widely distributed flyer, stating:
"I am asking MassDOT to commit to a transparent and inclusive community process to get this done right - before it goes to bid this fall. I am calling on them to fairly evaluate the option of replacing the Casey Overpass with a beautiful modern bridge that reflects the (sic) Olmstead tradition that protected this area for so long, a bridge that will unite and connect communities."
As #ArborwayMatters has amply demonstrated here and here, the Casey process has been inclusive, open, and all voices - including those unhappy with the outcome - have had many opportunities to be heard throughout the nearly three years of community and professional planning that has gone into the almost-final plans. Twenty-two Advisory Group meetings and seven large public hearings have taken place. Many alternatives have been fairly examined.
Walsh's call to start over in that process with a pre-ordained outcome - his "beautiful modern bridge" - was either woefully uninformed, a bid to curry favor, or deeply dismissive of the process to date. Neither possibility is comforting. His stance gave credence to the divisive grumblings of those members of the community that desire a reversal of the at-grade decision made by MassDOT more than eighteen months ago. And it was profoundly disrespectful to the hundreds of community members and professionals engaged in improving the outcome through this complex planning process.
But in this week's Gazette, Walsh now proclaims himself to be a "process type of person" who has been assured by the state that the Commonwealth and the community have been engaged in “a very strong and long process” all along.
#ArborwayMatters is glad, should he be elected, that Mr. Walsh has seen the light so that the rest of us can see the sky where the Overpass now stands.
He says now that “it doesn’t matter what I favor.”
Would that this were true. We do wonder about his willingness to cavalierly call into question the legitimacy of all the hard work the community has done so far. After months of study and careful consideration the community has spoken. The professionals have weighed-in. The arguments have been made ad nauseum. The chosen outcome is the opposite of the one Mr. Walsh called for - and that does in fact matter a great deal as Bostonians consider who will lead them.
Anyone who aspires to be Mayor of Boston should have a greater respect for the workings of neighborhoods, the process whereby the citizens of Boston come together to craft solutions that move the City - and the neighborhoods - forward no matter what the issue.