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Re: (rshsdepot) DEVELOPMENT DEBATE FOCUSES ON LOCAL TRAIN STATIONS
Where is the Globe?
- ----- Original Message -----
From: "Jim Dent" <james.dent_@_itochu.com>
To: "RSHS List" <rshsdepot_@_lists.railfan.net>
Sent: Tuesday, August 07, 2001 6:29 PM
Subject: (rshsdepot) DEVELOPMENT DEBATE FOCUSES ON LOCAL TRAIN STATIONS
> From the Boston Globe via Bernie Wagenblast...
> DEVELOPMENT DEBATE FOCUSES ON LOCAL TRAIN STATIONS
> CLUSTERING SEEN KEY IN FIGHT AGAINST SPRAWL TRAIN STATIONS DRIVE
> By Anthony Flint, GLOBE STAFF
> LITTLETON - Jan Walsh can picture it: a short walk to a new train station,
> place to get coffee and a newspaper, maybe pick up the dry cleaning on the
> way home. All within an hour of downtown Boston.
> "I would prefer the station in this location," she said, stepping out from
> the current, graffiti-strewn Foster Street shelter to check for the 11:51
> train, the hum of cars on nearby Interstate 495 clearly heard. "This area
> could certainly be adapted, having seen the areas around the station in
> other small towns."
> The state, however, has other plans: a new station and parking facility
> to a heron rookery off Route 2 and I-495 - the traditional park-and-ride
> model, with perhaps a lonely doughnut cart on the way to the platform.
> All around the Commonwealth, the tension is much the same.
> Environmentalists and smart-growth advocates say the state should be
> encouraging more "transit-oriented development," or TOD - clustering
> offices, and homes within walking distance of train stations, as in
> Brookline or Newton.
> But state officials frequently cater to suburban commuters who drive to
> train, and want parking facilities and not much else.
> The divergent approaches - being debated from Woburn to Weymouth to Fall
> River - have come into sharper relief as commuter rail expansion
> necessitates new stations. Pressure has intensified on the Massachusetts
> Transportation Authority to consider not just moving passengers, but how
> system influences development and choices people make on how to live.
> "We all know we can't sustain the sprawl pattern. There's got to be a mix
> types of communities and housing and transportation options, and that's
> [TOD] provides," said Joseph Walsh, director of planning and community
> development in Salem, where a 266-unit housing complex is being built
> from the train station.
> "There is a conceit among antisprawl folks that if we just work hard
> we can make the car go away. That's not really possible, nor should it be.
> But we can provide options for folks, so we all don't have to clog the
> roads," Walsh said.
> Concentrating development around train stations, of course, is an old
> it was the basic founding principle for most cities and towns in Eastern
> Massachusetts. Today, the train station is a centerpiece of redevelopment,
> not only in older urban areas like Salem or Fall River but in suburban
> seeking to reduce reliance on the car.
> "The historic means of transportation - the railroad - is one of the key
> ingredients in our revitalization," said Roger Nicholas, the town planner
> Canton, where shops, offices, and homes are planned within 150 yards of
> Canton Center station.
> In contrast, a station on the outskirts of an urban area that serves only
> cars can actually promote sprawl, said Jay Wickersham, head of the
> Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act Office. Future commuters will buy
> traditional, single-family homes in Southeastern Massachusetts, for
> if they know they can drive to a regional feeder station to catch the
> to Boston.
> "We don't want the extension of commuter rail to be an incentive to
> said Wickersham, who asked the MBTA to form a new task force to study "a
> closer link between transportation and land development," which have been
> seen as "separate and disconnected for too long."
> Buyers have been snapping up homes all around downtown Fall River in
> anticipation of the extension of commuter rail service there, said Mayor
> Edward M. Lambert. As an added bonus, the new Pierce Street station is
> expected to jump-start waterfront redevelopment as well.
> "We have the infrastructure and we provide a good, urban quality of life,"
> Lambert said. "It makes sense to locate these stations where you have
> greater concentrations of people, and from a smart growth perspective, you
> on't get the sprawl in suburban communities."
> Representatives of the MBTA say they work with cities and towns to
> transit-oriented development - but only where it makes sense for the
> "In selected areas, [TOD] works well. But the major focus of commuter rail
> is to take people from the suburbs into Boston, where the employment is,"
> said Dennis DiZoglio, director of planning for the MBTA. "For most
> outside the core, it's parking lots, so people can get on the train and go
> into Boston. They are not usually located in a center of commerce or where
> there are a lot of jobs. Most people come in from the surrounding area,
> are not looking at a reverse commute."
> Local wishes must have priority as well, DiZogolio said. Most outlying
> associate stations with traffic and parking problems, and prefer locations
> outside the town center.
> "We're more than happy to work with Kingston, Revere, or Southborough,"
> of which have proposed transit-oriented development, "but it has to start
> with the local community," he said. "We're not a land-use agency."
> Yet other state transportation agencies take a much more pro-active
> to encouraging development on land around stations, said Seth Kaplan,
> attorney for the Conservation Law Foundation.
> Some take a supportive role, as in Maplewood, N.J., where jitney bus
> lets commuters leave their cars at home instead of parking them at
> stations. Other agencies, in California, Oregon, and Washington D.C., play
> more direct role in fostering development near stations - to reap the
> real-estate revenues if nothing else, Kaplan said.
> "Partnerships have to start with somebody, and the transit agency should
> in the advocate's role, hunting up opportunities to make it happen,"
> said. At a minimum, developers can be involved in building new stations,
> "It's not just about the environment or increasing ridership, it's
> increasing revenue for the transit agency. It's a win all the way around,"
> Kaplan said.
> The same mentality can be applied not just with commuter rail but with
> transit, such as the Assembly Square development site near the Orange
> or other transit systems, such as the proposed Urban Ring, Kaplan said.
> Developers are often eager partners. For every builder of a traditional
> single-family home subdivision, others see homes and offices close to
> commuter rail as a major selling point, said Andrew Kaye, regional
> partner for JPI, a national luxury apartment-community development company
> building 698 units at a new "transit district" on a former Superfund site
> "From a business perspective, it's a wonderful amenity to be able to
> Kaye said. JPI is also building the housing complex next to the Salem
> Walsh, the Salem planning director, said MBTA planners have been
> on such efforts. "If JPI needs pedestrian access, they're right there," he
> said. "A decade ago it was, 'We do trains, the developer does the housing,
> and the city does the planning,' as three separate functions."
> For every improvement in coordination, there are other state officials
> in old ways of thinking, however, said Jack Clark, director of advocacy
> the Massachusetts Audubon Society.
> "It's the parking-garage-near-the-highway solution, and if there's traffic
> congestion, it's let's-add-another-lane," Clark said.
> In Littleton, he said, "It's clear they need a station, and they need
> parking. But they don't need to put it in the middle of a wetland with
> endangered species in it."
> The Littleton proposal, which is about to be filed with the Environmental
> Policy Act Office by the MBTA and state Highway Department "is just
> isolated transportation planning decision by individual agencies," Clark
> "What we need is a regional, intermodal transportation plan, endorsed by
> governor, so we can make decisions in a consistent and logical manner -
> decisions that serve off each other instead of being isolated answers to
> problems," he said. "I would propose a moratorium on expanded airports,
> facilities, or highways until there is such a plan."