Upham's Corner Online

A Green Upham's Corner - Rethinking St. Kevins

Posted: April 22, 2011     Nancy J Conrad

It didn't take long.  Comments are beginning to come out quietly - concern, confusion, a feeling that something's wrong.

Don Walsh, longterm member of Dorchester Bay, asked recently:  "Why is St. Kevin's being allowed to go forward when an Upham's Corner Planning Initiative is underway?  It needs to be considered as part of the planning, not as a fete compli." 

Larry Fabian wrote into UC News with a response to the St. Kevin's project that reflects visionary thinking about Upham's Corner first and St. Kevin's second.

At the St. Kevin's meeting, we all agreed that parking was the number one problem in Upham's Corner, but that's not true.  Cars are the problem.  They create traffic, traffic jams, air pollution and a need for parking spaces.

The corner of Bird Street and Columbia Road is the quintessential example of the type of traffic problem you find everywhere in Upham's Corner.  Parents drop their kids off to go to Bird Street and pick them up.  Buses stop there for the afterschool and summer programs. People come to the Library and the Health Center.  There is ABSOLUTELY no parking for anyone at the Municipal Building.

The funeral home on the other side has NO parking.  So patrons park on both sides of Bird Street preventing two-way traffic from flowing.  You can say the cause is a lack of enforcement (that's what we said at the meeting), but it's not true!  The police could come and disperse the crowd of mourners, but where would they go?  Where would they park their cars?

While St. Kevin's will include 0.6 parking spaces per unit, residents are concerned that it's not enough, that cars will spill out into Virginia Street.  So we are still thinking "addiction."  You have to provide for the addiction to cars.

Even if the parking spaces are behind the building, it will still be an additional 40 (!) cars and we can't move around in Upham's Corner as it is.

Is anybody listening?  Are we all lulled into thinking more cars will work?  It won't.

St. Kevin's developers and area residents are sincerely engaged in the concern / intervention community process.  We think that residential development means buildings, people, cars, more traffic, more density, so we accept the standard design approaches and hope for minimal damage.

Larry Fabian, urban planner, is thinking differently.  He gives us a refreshing approach, promoting a revolutionary idea - no cars – a car-free St. Kevin's with transportation support services as part of living there. Furthermore, he suggests a Green Upham's defined with the use of visionary and creative urban planning.

We need to start now BEFORE St. Kevin's is cast into irreversible form.

Read Larry's Letter.  What are your thoughts?

Fri, Apr 22, 2011 at 5:20 PM

Make St. Kevin's an autofree zone. And certainly no SUVs!  Get Jane Howard a grant to study state-of-the-art zoning guidance on auto-free urban zones. An early legal check for defense against AAA-type challenges would be wise.

Only tenants and owners committed to not owning a car. Ample maintained and secured pedestrian ways are provided. Min. 2 zipcar spaces and easy membership. In-house ride-sharing assistance. Maybe a special Uphams Shuttle?

Create a carefully designed and managed drop/off siding on Columbia for vans, taxis, UPS trucks, etc. Tow for other parkers. This becomes the primary access point for auto-free Uphams Green.

Consider closing Davern to Columbia. Study fire safety of whole complex and surroundings because public safety must be optimized.

Does it not make sense to plan jointly with Pilgrim Church? Why not design a good venue for a "resale" (aka flea) market that seems to happen there almost naturally and and helps many people. Shouldn't we provide public space for it and expand with a food/ farmer's market?

The developer's Traffic and Parking analysis area must to enlarged to include Columbia/Hancock prefreably to Bird and Dudley. And why not the parking behind the old bowling alley? There and UC's other hidden parking lots hardly gets used. We should ban parking on these streets and utilize the extensive lots that exist. And clearly UC needs parking and traffic management. Where is Main Street's plan of action?

Larry Fabian

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