Arlington Center planning begins

Broadway Plaza, Whittemore Park, sidewalks, lighting, and the planted median on Mass. Ave. were all in play in Arlington Center as the planning phase for Mass. Ave. II began last week with a presentation and workshop at the Town Hall Auditorium.

One of four groups weighed ideas for Arlington Center at Wednesday's meeting

One of four groups weighed ideas for Arlington Center at Wednesday’s meeting

About 50 Arlington residents came to Town Hall on Wednesday night, April 13, for the public kickoff of the second phase of the Mass. Ave. Project. This undertaking will lead to the reconstruction of the road and sidewalks from Pond Lane to Mill Street.

Some of the ideas for improvements from participants included opening up Broadway Plaza, Whittemore Park (at Mystic Street), and Town Hall Park (between Town hall and the Library) by removing or modifying walls and fences; adding amenities such as bicycle racks and drinking fountains; and replacing some or all of the brick sidewalks with concrete.

The meeting was the first of a trio of public workshops and meetings planned for this project.

The pedestrian crossing by the Robbins Library is marked for discussion at one table.

The pedestrian crossing by the Robbins Library is marked for discussion at one table.

Phase I is still winding down in East Arlington, and a separate road project to improve mobility through Arlington Center broke ground on April 4. Based on previous experience, actual work for Phase II is years away.

The main event at Wednesday’s meetings was small-group discussions of strengths, weaknesses, and goals for the area structured by the moderation of staff members from Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, the project engineers.

Participants sat at tables equipped with colored markers and outsized aerial photographs of the project area, and developed a list of criticisms and ideas that will inform the design proposal from the engineers.

A group considers Mass. Ave. on Wednesday night.

A group considers Mass. Ave. on Wednesday night.

The next public event in the planning process will be a “walkshop” on May 5, which will meet in front of Town Hall at 6 pm and tour the project zone. The final public meeting will be on June 16, also at Town Hall.

Other ideas from the meeting: Including public art in the planning process, making Whittemore Park more inviting by thinning trees and adding benches and other amenities, making better use of the memorial park near the fire station, and adding bicycle lanes.

The engineers will review these and other ideas and also base their design on traffic counts and other technical analysis, and on state and federal requirements.

The public-participation phase is considerably shorter than that of phase I.

The meeting started with a power-point-driven description of current conditions in the project zone, and concluded with a collation of ideas and issues from each table session.

The Town’s Departments of Public Works and of Planning and Community Development called and hosted the meeting.



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