Mayor’s Advice on Casey: ‘Try to Avoid It’

Mayor Marty Walsh makes a point during a press conference with neighborhood media on Wednesday, March 11, 2015.

Mayor Marty Walsh makes a point during a press conference with neighborhood media on Wednesday, March 11, 2015. Credit: Chris Helms

Mayor Marty Walsh sat down with reporters and editors from neighborhood publications like the Jamaica Plain News on Wednesday. Here are some highlights from the conversation.

Casey Arborway

The Casey project is state-run, but takes place on several city streets. Walsh has not taken a strong public role since before his election as mayor, when he buoyed bridge supporters by issuing a statement calling on the Department of Transportation to “fairly evaluate” replacing the Casey with a “beautiful modern bridge.” He later backed off that call, saying the city had no control over the project.

On Wednesday, Walsh had a simple statement when asked about the Casey: “Try to avoid it,” he said.

The mayor said regular communication is taking place between the city and state over the project. His staff will be providing more details and, when we have them, we’ll post what we know.

Snow Removal

The mayor said that next winter the city may implement an odd/even side of the street plowing policy, similar to what’s done with street sweeping. As all residents know, this winter’s multiple storms, with no melting in between, left streets snow-choked messes.

Walsh put some numbers around the city’s response to the historic winter:

  • There were 101,000 calls to the Mayor’s Hotline in February. Usually there are 300,000 calls a year.
  • The city has long past spent its $18 million budget for snow removal. On Wednesday he said the final figure will be north of $40 million. (On Wednesday night he told WBZ the number could reach $50 million.)
  • One billion cubic feet of snow fell on Boston this winter.
  • Snow plows went a distance equal to driving around the world 12 times.

Post-Snow Flooding

Walsh said he’s been checking his own basement every day for flooding as the snow finally melts.

“I was expecting flooding, but it’s coming down slow,” he said.

Walsh said the city was very fortunate not to receive an expected fifth storm that was to have included rain.

Olympics

The mayor spoke at length about his efforts to bring the 2024 summer Olympics to the city.

“I look at it as an opportunity to market the city of Boston,” he said.

Skeptics point to several potential downsides of the plan, but one of the main ones is use of taxpayer dollars. Walsh said any tax money used would be for infrastructure improvements that the city would be doing anyway. He said he would make sure the city is not left on the hook for any cost overruns.

Franklin Park is being eyed as home to equestrian events and the pentathlon. The mayor said the sprawling park, or any other city venue used, would be returned to better condition than it was found in.

On the issue of the healthy salaries organizers are paying the people they recruit into their organization (including several people with close ties to Walsh), the mayor offered this analogy: That it’s a “a Fortune 500 company that’s being set up to organize and run the Olympics.”

He said the Olympics could be the catalyst for the city to do “50 years of projects in 10 years.”

Rising Rents

The mayor addressed the rising cost of housing that’s forcing some people to move.

“People are being priced out of Boston,” he said.

Walsh said the key is to increase the supply of housing. He previously called on developers to produce 53,000 new units of housing at a variety of income levels by 2030.

He said the city is experiencing the third major growth spurt in its long history, the others occurring in the 1890s and 1960s.

Walsh pinned part of the problem on the lack of a cohesive plan for growth.

“The last city of Boston master plan was in 1965,” he said.

Other publications represented at the meeting included the Jamaica Plain Gazette and its parent company, Bay State Banner, West Roxbury and Roslindale Transcript.

  • Malena

    It would be great if the city would adopt a snow removal policy after major snow storms that followed the street cleaning schedule usually reserved for April through November. That would force those people who never dig their car out to do so. If this happens there would be no need for space savers.

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  • Deb

    There is a post about preparing for post-snow-melt flooding on the Boston Building Resources blog.
    http://www.bostonbuildingresources.com/advice/preparing-for-the-deluge

    • JamaicaPlainNews

      Thanks, Deb! Great blog post. I’ll highlight it on the Jamaica Plain News homepage.

  • Seth

    Nice to see that Walsh understands the city’s desperate need for more housing supply.

  • On Casey, I wonder if he means “avoid talking about it” or “avoid the area entirely”. Either way, I like City Councillor Matt O’Malley’s advice to locals of a few months ago better (and I’m paraphrasing): “Let’s do our best to support the businesses and restaurants of the area during construction”.

  • Walter

    The key is to increase the supply of affordable housing and to crack down on developers who only “develop” so-called “luxury” apartments.

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