Upham's Corner Online

Fairmount Indigo Corridor & Crossroads Planning Initiative

Posted: February 16, 2012     Nancy J Conrad

No Master Plan in UC We need a Master Plan UC District Improvement Plan FICCPIFairmount FAQ's

Everyone knows that Upham's Corner is the FIRST STOP! on the Fairmount Line (though that crown will soon pass to New Market.)  Now there is another "train" making its way down the Fairmount Corridor with its FIRST STOP! at Upham's Corner. 

Last year the BRA announced a planning initiative for Upham's Corner but the Mayor's "official" announcement was not forthcoming.  Several delays (not days) later, the planning initiative was "swallowed up" in a much bigger transportation planning initiative funded by federal dollars. 

"Upham's Corner will still get the same attention" - so proclaim the powers that be, but It is up to the residents, stakeholders and planners in Upham's Corner to make sure they get what was promised.  "Or," says one interested by-stander, "the train will just pass on by."

Will something beneficial come out of this planning process?  Of course, always does.  Consultants are being hired and money is being spent.  How about a Master Plan?  Upham's Corner needs a Master Plan. 

What we get instead is an improved train schedule and amenities unless we, the residents and caretakers of Upham's Corner, get involved and speak up.

Kickoff Announcement
Tue, Feb 21, 2012 2 PM
Strand Theatre

Mayor Menino will announce the start of the BRA Fairmount/Indigo Planning Initiative.  Everyone is invited.

On Feb 11, 2011, the BRA (Boston Redevelopment Authority) announced a $150,000 planning initiative for Upham's Corner, in their words a "District Improvement Plan."  This was very exciting news for what we, here in Upham's Corner, know is a long under-served section of the City of Boston. 

Unfortunately, the Mayor Menino official announcement (the BRA by itself is not sufficient) was delayed until May 2011 then delayed some more.  The newest version of an Upham's Corner planning process is coming just over one year following the original announcement. 
  • It no longer says:  "Upham's Corner." 
  • It says:  "Fairmount" and why? 
Because federal dollars landed at City Hall for an economic development of the new Indigo Line (aka Fairmount) and since Upham's Corner is already a stop on the Fairmount Line, what perfect timing!

"Let's fold the Upham's Corner planning initiative into the Fairmount Line.  What a great idea!"  Apparently (we are told), the City will in no way diminish its original planning initiative objectives.  We shall see!

What does Upham's Corner need to get out of its economic malaise?  One answer (of many) is that it needs a Master Plan but Upham's Corner does not have a Master Plan. 

Does that mean that "anything goes"?  Not quite.  Zoning already provides significant guidellines for all of Dorchester including Upham's Corner.  Developments require (except for as of right) a community based approval process.

We like to think that guidelines have teeth.  After all, they restrict, inhibit and set standards for proposals, ideas and plans but they DO NOT provide a model for what a community wants to become. 

Guidelines are False Teeth

A good analogy is to think of guideslines as FALSE TEETH.  By themselves they sit apart from the "locus of opportunity."  They can't chew or bite without first being relocated into a live "critter."

A Master Plan is that higher purposed entity that provides an opportunity for guidelines (false teeth) to help shape, form and implement. Without a Master Plan, it's tough to answer the question:  So how do you see your community in 5, 10 and 15 years?  Duh ...

Just bring a rooomful of caring residents and professionals together to answer that question.  Lack of agreement characterizes the conversation until  the Master Plan establishes the operating parameters, themselves a set of guidelines.

A Master Plan "doth not the apple grow." 

Master Plans don't plant trees.  They do plant ideas and when interested parties and interested dollars stop by, the process of setting effective (and much less regretable) development in motion runs more smoothly.

That Upham's Corner needs attention, a Master Plan and for the residents and businesses to wake up and "get with the program" is clear, obvious and frustrating. 

In this statement rests the reality:  We are operating with a two-sided coin. 
  • Our community can't do it alone and
  • Without the motivation of its residents,  the city can't work miracles. 

What's that old expression about dressing up a pig? 

Don't take this introduction to crude analogies the wrong way.  Use it to poignantly perceive the challenges ahead.  Attitude, energy, vision, excitement, commitment to the community process, and, yes, VERY HARD WORK - these are all necessary to get the process in motion. 

Taking steps in forward motion, feeling the thrill of a victory for our community and more:
  • Motivating ourselves to expect change for the better
  • Thinking big picture and working the small details
  • Planning for the future of Upham's Corner
  • Cleaning up our thinking and our acting
  • Best of all, reaching out to others knowing we have something to offer
So we've already answered this question, but let's ponder it again.

Question:  What will it take to bring forth fruit from the land of Upham's Corner? 
  • A motivated, hard-working farmer who continues planting seeds in the dry earth?
  • Or an irrigation ditch to provide water? 
Answer:  A little of both is a great answer but that is WRONG!

What we need is a MASTER PLAN for the best use of the land.  The hard-working farmer is getting nowhere and even if we bring water to the land, that still may not generate soil that bears fruit because of other factors.

If the best use of the land is for crops, then lets take full advantage of the opportunity.
  1. Go organic
  2. Teach our youth the basics of urban farming
  3. Generate the best compost pile in a 5-mile radius
  4. Sell product at a local farmers' market
  5. Write a cookbook
Without our Master Plan, our daily tasks will be selected by a well-meaning but mindless process of "by guess and by golly."  With a Master Plan, we can build the foundations for new life in Upham's Corner.

Upham's Corner District Improvement Plan         

View Original Announcement

What was expected to happen?

  • The BRA will spend $150,000 on a community based planning process
  • Basic goals
    • increase the economic vibrancy and success of the business district
    • enhance the sustainability of the district and surrounding neighborhood
  • Joint venture
    • BRA
    • Department of Neighborhood Development
    • Boston Transportation Department
    • Office of Neighborhood Services
Detailed Goals
  • Community Vision to guide improvements and promote sustainability
  • Business District Market Assessment and Strategic Economic Plan
  • Comprehensive Public Realm Action Plan (with recommendations for)
    • Short and long term transportation improvements
    • Short and long term streetscape improvements
  • District Development Plan promoting long range growth and sustainability
  • Development Scenarios for selected publicly and privately owned sites
  • Use & Design Guidelines for selected parcels
  • Zoning Updates to support recommendations
Fairmount Indigo Corridor & Crossroads Planning Initiative (FICCPI)

This is a citywide transportation planning initiative which is already "in process."   

View BRA Planning Initiative online

Project Managers
Ines Soto Palmarin
Jeremy Rosenberger

FICCPI is a two-tiered planning initiative. The principle components are:
  • Comprehensive Corridor-wide Community Planning for the neighborhoods traversed by the Fairmount Indigo Line. Working at the macro scale, the goal is to envision a new identity for the Corridor and develop a comprehensive plan for corridor-wide economic development and physical improvement.
  • Crossroad / Station Area Improvement Plans for three to four key Crossroad and Station locations. Working at the micro scale, the goal is to create comprehensive physical and economic development plans for certain catalytic nodes along the Corridor. The first Station Area to be studied in this process will be Uphams Corner.

Fairmount Indigo Planning Initiative FAQ's

What will the operating strategy be?
Comprehensively guide growth along the Corridor.

As the number of stations the Indigo line serves increases, so will also the number of riders and the potential for businesses of all sorts.  A plan is needed to make sure the "new" Indigo Line promotes cultural, economic and functional improvements to the corridor and the adjacent communities.
Will the planning be done exclusively by the BRA?
No, the intention is to incorporate existing planning processes and initiatives both 
  • City-led and
  • Community-based
Is this a superficial planning process?
No, the process is expected to involve significant participation by all interested parties - the City, the community and stakeholders.
  1. Significant community participation
  2. Coordinated efforts of multiple City agencies
  3. Coordinated efforts of neighborhood stakeholders
What is the BRA role?
The BRA has responsibilities throughout the planning process.
  • Manage a consultant team
  • Coordinate with other City departments
  • Coordinate with local foundations
  • Coordinate with neighborhood stakeholders
  • Interface with community Advisory Group
  • Manage the community outreach process

How many Advisory Groups will there be?
A Corridor Advisory Group (CAG) will be appointed to assist with the Corridor-wide Community Vision and will coordinate with the BRA and the Consultant Team.
  • 20 to 30 members
  • Participate in the visioning process
  • Help establish a new identities for the neighborhoods traversed by the Fairmount Indigo Indigo Line.
Several Working Advosory Groups (WAG) who will assist with the planning process at each designated Crossroad/Station Area
  • 10 to 15 members
  • Participate in the comprehensive improvement plans for selected nodes

Who will determine the membership?
Mayor Thomas M. Menino will appoint several Advisory Groups (AG).

Since the study areas consist of a wide range of uses, including non-residential, it is anticipated that AG membership will adequately reflect the diversity of community interests.
  • Their roles will be
    • To help guide the planning process
    • To create a bridge with local communities.
  • Representatives will be selected from
    • local residents
    • community groups
    • businesses
    • non-profit organizations and
    • other neighborhood institutions
    • experts from related professional organizations.

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