Community Meetings to Discuss Holding State & MBTA to Promise of Affordable Housing at Arborway Bus Yard

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The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council is leading two community meetings this week to discuss the future of the Arborway Bus Yard. Specifically, community input and ideas are being sought for the future of the site, and for how to get the state and MBTA to keep their promise of putting affordable housing on the site.

For almost 20 years, the MBTA has "temporarily" kept buses at the location at the corner of Washington Street and the Arborway.

State Rep. Liz Malia, D-Jamaica Plain, has continually worked on redeveloping the Arboway Bus Yard, "The reality is acres on the Arboway Yard are abandoned and underutilized since around 1986 and we can’t get the city and state to partner to do something substantial," said Malia earlier this year in an interview with Jamaica Plain News.

The first meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 16, at 7 p.m. at the Bowditch School building (80-82 Green St.) will be led by the JPNC's Housing & Development Committee and focus on: Is there a way forward to changing the Arborway Yard and holding the state, the T and the city to their written commitments for affordable housing there?

The second meeting is the following night, Wednesday, Aug. 17, at 6 p.m. at the Brookside Community Health Center (3297 Washington St.) and is a joint meeting with the JPNC, the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) and the MBTA. This meeting will discuss the Arborway Bus Yard as it fits within Plan: JP/Rox. Plan JP/Rox is an ongoing planning study in which the BRA is actively engaging with the community to create a new vision and plan for the area between Forest Hills and Jackson Square.

Malia said that at one point former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and the state's transportation department said the MBTA would build a bus yard on a part of the space and seven or eight other acres would go to the city for affordable housing. But that proposal never got off the ground.

"What we have now is a temporary bus yard... And there is no resolution of that, and there is work on it again to get money for the T to put money in the capital budget to do a permanent bus yard so the state can cede the rest of land to the city to be used," added Malia earlier this year. "But I’m not real hopeful that can happen. You look at the need for new resources and look at the Arborway Yard you see lost opportunities."

But Malia and the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council have hope the bus yard can be redeveloped, as the area is changing due to numerous residential housing projects. The new housing is converting the area more into a residential neighborhood and less of a industrial area. Thus, the Arborway Bus Yard could also be redeveloped and more affordable housing could be added to the Forest Hills area on Washington Street, which many have called for as more and more housing units are proposed.