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Mayor outlines neighborhood priorities in capital spending budget

New school renovations, transportation improvements dovetail with existing plans

Yawu Miller
Yawu Miller is the former senior editor of the Bay State Banner. He has written for the Banner since 1988.... VIEW BIO
Mayor outlines neighborhood priorities in capital spending budget
Mayor Martin Walsh announces his administration’s capital budget priorities during a press conference in Franklin Park.

Mayor Martin Walsh gathered with city leaders last Thursday to outline his five-year capital spending budget, touting investments ranging from new kitchens in school buildings to improvements to the city’s transit infrastructure and upgrades to parks and libraries.

The budget represents a $400 million increase over the five-year plan announced last year, with new investments including a $124 million building for Boston Arts Academy, a $6.2 million renovation of Harambee Park in Dorchester that will add a new playground and pathways and an $800,000 master planning process for enhancements to Franklin Park.

Upham’s Corner will receive a new library and improvements to the district’s streets and sidewalks, and the budget continues investments in Columbia Road that will culminate with the redesign of Moakley Park in South Boston.

“These investments will illustrate what this budget really means — the impact on Bostonians on a daily basis,” Walsh said during the announcement. “The most important investment we’re making today is an investment in the people of our city. They are our greatest asset.”

The announcement, held in the Franklin Park Playstead recreation area, came on the 196th birthday of the park’s designer, Frederick Law Olmsted. While the planning process for that park is ongoing, work is already being done to close the bridge crossing Franklin Park’s Scarborough Pond to vehicular traffic permanently, Walsh announced.

Roxbury

District 7 City Councilor Kim Janey, who attended along with District 6 Councilor Matt O’Malley, praised the improvements being made in her district, which spans parts of Roxbury and the South End.

“I’m thrilled to see the critical investments in our parks, libraries, streets, and school buildings in this five-year capital plan,” Janey said. “With the Dearborn STEM Academy nearing completion, improvements to Franklin Park underway, renovations underway to the Dudley Library, design in progress for the South End Library and its adjacent park, and significant sidewalk updates in the Humboldt Ave area, District 7 sees significant progress under this budget and five-year capital plan, and I look forward to continuing the budget hearing process.”

Most of what’s in the capital plan has been disclosed previously in the mayor’s yearly announcements of the budget. The plan also dovetails with the mayor’s 10-year, $1 billion Build BPS plan to redevelop Boston’s school buildings, the Go Boston 2030 transportation plan and the Imagine Boston 2030 housing plan.

Big ticket items

While Walsh highlighted local projects during the press conference last week, some of the highest dollar amounts are going to large infrastructure projects outside of Boston’s residential neighborhoods: $92 million to rebuild the bridge to Long Island, where homeless shelters run by the city were shuttered in 2014; a $100 million investment to rehabilitate and renew the Northern Avenue Bridge and a $218 million investment to build a new North Washington Street bridge.

The Walsh administration plans to spend $963 million on transportation projects over the next 12 years through its GoBoston 2030 plan. Included in the current five-year capital budget are $5 million for the city’s Neighborhood Slow Streets program, which will use speed bumps and other traffic calming strategies in some areas, $5.5 million for the reconstruction of Quincy Street and $3 million for the reconstruction of streets in Madison Park Village.