Discussion focused on three pre-selected “hot spots” in need of attention: the area surrounding Jermaine Goffigan Park at the corner of Blue Hill Avenue and Quincy Street, Dorchester’s Upham’s Corner section, and the junction of Blue Hill Avenue, Talbot Avenue and Harvard Street.
Michael James, director of human resources and diversity at Boston Architectural College, a member of CDRC’s board and the summit’s primary organizer, made it his mission to ensure an equal voice for teens in the discussions.
“We’re looking at things from their level … to create and implement their solutions, to make their communities better and safer places,” James said.
The attending teens agreed that increasing their participation in the dialogue was key.
“It’s important for us to have input in community safety,” said Jeanette, a 16-year-old Roxbury resident. “If you think your community is unsafe, but you don’t speak up, you’re just as guilty as the people who make that area unsafe.”
Residents cited a marked lack of street lights, “blind spots” (areas of poor visibility due to trees and existing structures) in public parks and common areas, scant police presence, and a lack of simple maintenance as reasons they sometimes feel unsafe.
The teams discussed a broad range of potential design improvements and additions to the hot spots. Suggestions ranged from the grand — a new police station with adjacent video arcade at Jermaine Goffigan Park, or a glass-walled youth center to replace the rocky hillside at the corner of Blue Hill Avenue and Harvard Street — to the simple, like adding a pergola along the pathway from Upham’s Corner to the nearby Upham’s Corner MBTA station.
“The park [on Talbot Avenue] isn’t lit up well at all. It needs more lights,” said Jeanette. “If you’re walking down the streets at night, you can’t even tell if there’s someone behind that big tree in front of you. If you can’t see what is in front of you, how can you protect yourself? You can’t.”
The summit concluded with the design teams building and presenting scale models, made of cardboard and felt, of the new and improved Roxbury hot spots. The next step, for both the summit and the CDRC, involves evaluation and application.
“What we want to do next is look at the suggestions and feedback from the teams, and find a site where we can implement a community project that utilizes some of the ideas [from the summit],” said CDRC Executive Director Brandy Brooks.
Brooks says she hopes that funding will come from private donations, city support and the pro bono services of architects and contractors.
James says the CDRC’s immediate future includes not just planning and brainstorming, but action — especially in the case of Jermaine Goffigan Park.
“It’s the city’s responsibility to clean up that park,” he said. “But just in case they don’t do it, we will.”