BRA Board Approves Initiatives for Improved Building Accessibility, Greenway Ramps, and Allston Housing at June 19 Meeting
Jun 20, 2014
Article 80 Process to Adopt Accessibility Checklist for Developers
The BRA Board approved the adoption of new Accessibility Guidelines and an Accessibility Checklist for developers undergoing the Article 80 process. The new Guidelines and Checklist will ask developers to consider best practices for making their projects accessible to persons with disabilities, and will incorporate input from the City of Boston Disabilities Commission early on in the Article 80 review process. According to the 2010 Census, over 77,600 residents self-identify as disabled, in addition to an estimated 1.5 million disabled tourists that Boston welcomes.
The new guidelines and checklist will help developers to more thoughtfully integrate accessibility measures into their projects, enabling them to potentially exceed existing American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Massachusetts Architectural Access Board (AAB) requirements. Representatives of the Disabilities Commission will now attend some of the earliest review meetings with developers in order to make recommendations to improve accessibility before the design has become too difficult to change. All development projects subject to Article 80 small and large project review, including Institutional Master Plan updates, must complete the checklist.
The Accessibility Guidelines and Checklist were modeled after the Article 80 Climate Change Preparedness and Resiliency Guidelines and Checklist, which were adopted in late 2013. Both sets of documents ask developers to review their projects through a framework of best practices.
Greenway Study to Explore Possibilities for Covering Highway Ramps
The BRA Board approved the initiation of the Greenway Ramp Parcel Study, which will examine options for permanently covering open access ramps along the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway. Covering the ramps was a State environmental requirement related to the Big Dig, but it was never stipulated what the covering should include. This study will examine many options, including horizontal, vertical, landscaped, or architectural coverings.
The Study is a joint effort between the community abutting the Greenway, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and the BRA, with the BRA providing funding and staff input for the study. The parcels, which are owned by MassDOT, include parcels 6, directly in front of Government Center Garage and the Haymarket MBTA station; 12, in front of the Dock Square Garage; and 18, in front of International Place.
This will be the last major planning initiative related to the Greenway Corridor, which opened in 2008. Project staff plan to consult the past several years of physical and programmatic successes along the Greenway, along with community input, to inform the best options for the ramps.
A public “kickoff” meeting about the study is scheduled for June 26, 2014.
BRA to Solicit Partner Organization to Help Stabilize Allston Housing Stock
The BRA Board gave permission for the BRA, in partnership with City of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development (DND) and Harvard University, to solicit Letters of Interest from organizations qualified to promote homeownership opportunities and stabilize the housing stock in North Allston and North Brighton. The Harvard-Allston Task Force, a city-appointed advisory group, and the broader community will also be involved in determining the successful organization from received Letters of Interest.
The selected organization and program will be financed with $3,000,000 from Harvard University, which was committed as a community benefit during the 2013 Harvard Allston Campus Master Plan process. During that planning process, the community identified the stabilization of Allston’s housing stock and promotion of homeownership as a major concern, due to high student renter turnover and the prevalence of absentee landlords in the area.
The Solicitation of Letters of Interest may be reviewed on the BRA website. Letters of Interest must be submitted to the BRA by July 18, 2014.