Dorchester residents have voiced a nervous excitement at the prospects of breathing new life into the Fairmount Corridor under Imagine Boston 2030, the city’s first comprehensive large-scale planning effort since the failed attempt to clear land for a new southwest expressway in the 1960’s.
As part of the plan, the city has rolled out details on their vision to better connect the Fairmount Corridor, spanning from South Boston, Dorchester, Mattapan and Hyde Park, to the rest of the MBTA network through the Indigo Line last May.
This $130 million plan is part of a larger effort to connect Upham’s Corner to the “constellation of emerging and existing job centers in the area” like Newmarket and Widett Circle and Dudley Square in hopes of creating “local job centers and creative economy nodes.” With the completion of the Blue Hill Avenue Station at the start of June, the Indigo Line is set to run through Talbot Avenue, New Market, and Four Corners/Geneva Avenue starting in 2019.
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In the neighborhood, where only 45 percent of adults over 25 have more than a high school education, and median household income is just over $41,000 per year, residents have some concerns about the developments.
“It started in Charlestown, Southie, and now Dorchester,” said Mark Doherty, 43. "They are barely the same towns they once were. Now it's happening in Dorchester. Instead of squeezing people in and out of the city, how about we do more for vets, the homeless, fix the school system, the huge heroin problem we have had for years.”
Others cited the benefits, but cited concerns for the neighborhood's future diversity.
“As a homeowner who's about 10-12 years away from retirement I'm very excited about what revitalization will do for my home value,” Dorchester native Dennis White, 52, said. "But if this trend continues throughout Dorchester, it will be out of reach for low and middle-income families. Part of what make Dorchester interesting is its diversity. Dorchester does need more cultural stuff, art music meaningful communication between different ethnic groups. I fear that expansion, and improvements could easily just be code words for gentrification.”
The Fairmount line runs through what is arguably the most dangerous neighborhood in Boston, Bowdoin-Geneva. Some residents have high hopes for what an enhancement might bring.
“I've lived here since 2010 and the area has only improved in the time I've been here,” said Roach McCracken, 37. “There are a disproportionate number of shootings and other gang-related incidents in my neighborhood, but the general feel of the area is becoming safer. I'm also not blind to gentrification, and I think it's important to make sure that the community has the opportunity to help shape its own future."
McCracken cited the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) as a community advocacy group with "good hedges against gentrification.”
According to Imagine Boston 2030's preliminary reports on Dorchester, the first step is designing "policies to ensure affordability and prevent displacement will form the foundation of enhancement efforts. ... Once these are in place, the city can pursue investments in main-street corridors, civic infrastructure, and improved transit access for the local community."
Learn more about Imagine Boston 2030 here.