We’re proud of the many contributions we have made in transportation, land development and the environment for the Greater Boston Area. Here are a few of our most recent accomplishments:
In July, A Better City completed further refinement of an All At-grade alternative for replacement of the I-90 viaduct and redesign of rail, pedestrian, and bicycle facilities adjacent to the interchange. We prepared and distributed a detailed report to various stakeholders and to MassDOT for incorporation in the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR). Much of this report is incorporated in MassDOT’s DEIR, referred to as the 3k-ABC alternative. We met twice with MassDOT representatives to discuss the content of our report and to verify their understanding of it. At the end of November, A Better City began review and preparation of detailed comments on the DEIR for the project and initiated a campaign to gain support for the All At-grade alternative.
mbta signal work
A Better City successfully lobbied the MBTA to include Automatic Train Operations (“ATO”) into its new Red Line and Orange Line vehicle overhaul after much research and advocacy by Glen Berkowitz. These vehicles are currently in testing and are expected to be put into full operation between 2018-2023. Regarding ATO, it has been publically acknowledged by senior MBTA officials that it will be included in the procurement contract, although that has yet to be issued. We will continue to monitor this important development.
Seaport leadership group
A Better City is managing a group called the Seaport Leadership Group ( SLG ), which is a reorganization of the former “South Boston Business Leaders” working group. Since this group was formed, the SLG is making significant progress to unify the voice of business community in the Seaport area and advance important transportation projects and management for this important economic center. The SLG consists of representatives from businesses located in Boston Seaport area, with the top priorities being implementing recommendations from the 2015 South Boston Waterfront Sustainable Transportation Plan. The SLG is making progress on projects, such as delivering new adaptive traffic signals in the district, reopening the South Boston Bypass Road, bringing water ferry service from North Station to Fan Pier in the South Boston Waterfront, and improving mobility services throughout the area.
A Better City led the process to create a Greenway Business Improvement District (BID) in Boston. The Greenway BID will allow abutters to contribute directly towards Greenway costs – helping protect and support the arts, programming, and greenery that make up this gem of downtown. Through regular meetings of the Abutter Committee, we prepared the legal documents and forms to define the Greenway BID’s purpose, boundary lines, fee structure, and process for a successful partnership for future spending on the Greenway. A sustainable, fair, and long-term solution was made possible through a collaboration with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, City of Boston, Greenway Conservancy, and abutter properties to fund the costs of the Greenway. The foundation of this arrangement came together through a memorandum of understand facilitated by public sector leaders in June 2017. After nearly a yearlong effort by the Greenway property owners coordinated by A Better City, Boston City Council approved the Greenway Business Improvement District (BID) in April 2018. The Greenway BID became the second BID in Boston, and the sixth active BID in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
In July, our project team completed and submitted two conceptual urban design proposals for a pedestrian plaza in Phillips Square (Chinatown) to the Boston Transportation Department (BTD). One of these proposals will be implemented as an interim plaza in spring 2018 through a partnership among the City of Boston, a Chinatown-based community organization (community partner), and Cresset Group (funder).
The Public Improvement Commission (PIC) approved an amendment to the City’s sidewalk café regulations that would enable food service across the public way. A Better City recommended this amendment to the City during the early stages of this initiative. These changes were incorporated into the interim placemaking standards being developed by A Better City, Boston Transportation Department, and Utile as part of the Public Realm Planning Study for Go Boston 2030.
In A Better City’s role as facilitators of the Boston Green Ribbon Commission’s Commercial Real Estate Working Group (CREWG), three publications were released in 2017: Sustainable Tenant Fit-Out and Improvement Guide; The Commercial Net Zero Energy Building Market in Boston; and Voluntary Resilience Standards. Two events were co-hosted with the Sustainable Buildings Initiative to launch these publications: a Landlord-Tenant Forum to increase communication between landlords and tenants resulting in increased energy efficiency and sustainability of office spaces; and a panel discussion, A Path to Zero? The Role of Net Zero Energy Buildings in Boston focused on achieving net zero energy in Boston's commercial real estate buildings.
In 2017, A Better City’s longstanding Challenge for Sustainability was rebranded as the Sustainable Buildings Initiative. Several peer-to-peer meetings and larger events were hosted throughout the year to educate participants on topics such as energy storage and climate resilience. Additionally, one-on-one meetings were completed with participants in Q1 and Q3 to discuss sustainability and resilience goals and projects; provide updates on A Better City’s work; and connect participants with resources they may find helpful. Our Emissions Reduction and Climate Resilience toolkits are in the process of being updated and expanded as an additional resource for participants.
Finally, in 2017, A Better City closed out a grant from the Barr Foundation and began a three-year matching grant from the Devonshire Foundation, procured exclusively to support the Sustainable Buildings Initiative.
Working with the Unit Advisory Committee, A Better City finalized its first-ever Energy and Environmental Policy Agenda. A Better City worked towards its policy goals by advocating for legislative change, providing expertise to government administrators (at the federal, state, and city levels), and ensuring its members are aware of and engaged with governmental opportunities. As part of our engagement efforts, A Better City co-hosted two webinars focused on energy and climate policy in Massachusetts, and proposed legislative changes to the Renewable Portfolio Standards. A Better City also joined two relevant coalitions in 2017: the Alliance for Clean Energy Solutions and the Massachusetts Climate Change Adaptation Coalition.