Commentary: Foster St. Playground Status Update

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The Foster Street Playground was recently featured in a recent 311 report and I fell compelled to share some insights and history. My parents and I have attempted to address the abandonment of this city playground for many years to no avail. Our property abuts the playground; our kitchen windows look directly out on to the cars that now park there, and the filthy, crumbling, collapsing surface. It has been neglected by the city for many, many years.

Here’s the story. The property is still listed as a “park” with the Parks and Recreation Department; officially called the Foster Street Park, City Park #123, and built in 1930. I played there everyday as a child. It was my backyard. As the demographics of the area changed and fewer children were playing there, the city completely abandoned the property. Cars eventually started parking there. When the city didn’t take notice, more cars parked there. After a number of years, someone apparently with connections to City Hall, had neighborhood parking signs posted. I say ‘apparently’ because the Public Works Department does not have jurisdiction of the property, and therefore would not post signs as a matter of their standard practice.

Still today, the property belongs to Parks and Recreation which I doubt would authorize the posting of parking signs in a play area. Yes, it would be nice if the city would restore it to a park. I realize that parking is a high priority. I’d have no objections if Parks and Recreation turned the property over to Public Works and, at a minimum, completely rebuild the surface which is collapsing and caving in. After that, the city should regularly maintain it and keep it clean.

Councilor Edwards’ office has been attentive to dressing this issue, so I’m hopeful this will finally be resolved. That has not been the case with city officials in the past.  I bring this to the attention of the community here, again, because it was recently reference in your 311 report.

Fun fact, Paul Revere once owned a portion of the property. It was the site of his famous bell foundry.

Peter Petrigno

Neighborhood Photo: Non-Existent Rush Hour

Nonno Jerry and grandson “Jackie Cannoli” crossed the Charlestown Bridge on the way back to their home in the North End at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the stay at home advisory, not a car was in sight during this normally high-traffic time.

“Neighborhood Photo” is a regular feature on Send in your photos using our Submit a Post form, via email to or tag @northend.waterfront on Instagram. Please include a caption or story telling us about your photo.

See past neighborhood photo posts.

No Tickets/Towing for Street Sweeping Due to COVID-19

While street cleaning is still operating on a normal schedule, the City of Boston is not ticketing or towing for street sweeping violations at this time.

With residents being asked to stay at home and avoid non-essential travel in attempts to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the Boston Transportation Department is not enforcing street sweeping regulations. The City will continue to clean the streets around parked vehicles.

This only applies to street sweeping; note that other parking restrictions, such as blocking fire hydrants, are still in effect and can result in tickets and towing. Visit the homepage to check for updates.

Overnight Lane Reductions Begin Mar. 11 for N. Washington St. Bridge Project

Below is the construction look ahead for the North Washington Street Bridge Replacement Project as provided by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) for the week of March 8-21, 2020.

Travel Impacts

  • N. Washington St. Inbound: Off-peak daytime lane reductions across the bridge and additional lane reductions at Keany Square will continue. One lane across the bridge and all turn movements will be available from 10 a.m.–2 p.m. on weekdays.
  • N. Washington St. Outbound: Off-peak daytime lane reductions will continue across the bridge to City Square. One lane across the bridge and all turn movements will be available from 7 a.m.–2 p.m. on weekdays.
  • Overnight Lane Reductions: Overnight lane reductions in both directions will begin March 11 during weekdays from 9:00 p.m. – 5:00 a.m. At least one lane across the bridge and all turn movements will be available.

Description of Scheduled Work

  • Construction of the temporary pedestrian and vehicle bridge and utility bridge includes installing, assembling, and welding of bridge spans, supports, guard rails, and light poles.
  • Utility work by Comcast.

Work Hours

  • Daytime (6 a.m. – 4 p.m.) on weekdays and overnight (9 p.m. – 5 a.m.) starting on March 11. The bridge’s eastern sidewalk is open and available to all pedestrians and cyclists with crossings at both Keany and City Squares. Please be advised that the DCR-controlled Charlestown locks can provide another alternate route, but may close without warning and beyond control of this project. During Tudor Wharf walkway closures, pedestrian access will be provided via the Water Street underpass and guidance signage will be provided. The contractor is coordinating with the TD Garden and local police to provide awareness and manage traffic impacts during events.
  • All users should take care to pay attention to all signage and police details and move carefully through the work zone. Police details, lane markings, temporary barriers, traffic cones, signage, and other tools will be used to control traffic and create safe work zones.

Read more from MassDOT here and follow coverage of the bridge project by searching the tag N. Washington St. Bridge. Contact with any questions or concerns.

N. Washington St. Bridge Project Update: DCR Locks Closed Mar. 5–6

Below is the construction look ahead for the North Washington Street Bridge Replacement Project as provided by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) for the week of March 1-7, 2020.

Project Advisory: Charles River Dam Pedestrian Walkway Temporary Closure 

Beginning on Thursday, March 5, 2020 at 6 a.m. and continuing through Friday, March 6, 2020 at 6 p.m., the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) will close the Charles River Dam Pedestrian Walkway for necessary maintenance at the DCR facility.

The work is weather dependent and may need to be rescheduled if the forecast changes. 

The North Washington Street Bridge eastern sidewalk remains open and available to all pedestrians and cyclists with crossings at both Keany and City Squares.

Vessel traffic through the Charles River Dam locks will not be impacted and pedestrian patterns will be clearly marked.

Read more from MassDOT here and follow coverage of the bridge project by searching the tag N. Washington St. Bridge.Contact with any questions or concerns.

Income-Adjusted Parking Ticket Fines Proposed By City Councilor Mejia

At-large City Councilor Julia Mejia introduced a proposal for income-adjusted fines for parking violations at a recent Boston City Council meeting.

According to Mejia, parking tickets should be reflective of Boston residents’ financial situations. She believes that residents shouldn’t be placed in a position where they’re forced to choose between paying parking tickets or putting food on the table.

In 2018, parking ticket fines increased across eleven City parking violations including an increase from $25 to $40 for overstaying the meter. Because many low-income Bostonians live in car-dependent areas, accessing the Greater Boston area becomes more difficult when paired with the increased parking violation fines.

The proposal was met with scrutiny from other city councilors who believed the best approach to the issue isn’t through income-reduced parking tickets.

City Councilor Lydia Edwards (District 1) agreed that parking violation fines deserve closer consideration to determine the impact they have on Boston residents. However, she noted that more suitable approaches could involve “ticket not tow” programs or interest free payment plans for paying off parking tickets.

According to City Councilor Matt O’Malley (District 6), focusing on creative ways to address the city’s parking through means such as more metered parking would better address the issue. He also suggested that alternative transportation such as increased bike networks and bike shares should be considered.

Mejia’s proposal would potentially entail bringing your income tax report to City Hall in order to pay a sliding scale for your ticket, worrying some who believe this would only complicate the process of paying parking tickets.

In a recent poll, 84% of participating readers voted against this change to income-adjusted parking tickets. Read what some local residents had to say in the comments section.

“Godmothered” Filming at North Square Continues Feb. 28

Due to weather, filming of “Godmothered” for the Disney+ streaming movie service had to be cancelled on February 6 and has been rescheduled for Friday, February 28, 2020.

Filming will occur on February 28 at North Square, with prep work taking place on February 26 & 27. North Square past the split to Moon St., Garden Ct. between Prince & Fleet Sts., and Prince St. between Garden Ct. & Hanover Sts. will be closed to traffic from 2/28 at 4 p.m. to 2/29 at 4 a.m.

There will also be parking restrictions in the area. Parking vouchers for the dock square garage will be provided to displaced residents. Vouchers will be given to residents on site. See the full filming notice below (note “Frills” refers to a pre-production code name). Contact Liliana Kondracki with questions or concerns.

Reader Poll: Should Parking Ticket Amounts Be Adjusted Based on Income?

Boston parking tickets can range between $15 to $120 depending on where you park and how long you leave your vehicle. City Councilor At-Large Julia Mejia suggests these amounts could be just a hassle for some while, for low-income individuals, it could create a real hardship. As a solution, Mejia is slated to introduce a hearing to discuss income-adjusted parking tickets.

New York City and the state of California are considering similar programs that would cut fines by a certain percentage for low-income drivers, or have a judge determine what the fine should cost based the offender’s income.

What do you think? Should parking ticket amounts be income-based? Vote in our poll and add your comments in the section below!

Web polls are unscientific and reflect only those who choose to participate. polls do not have any official significance and are only intended for the interest of our readers.

Reader Poll: What Do You Think About the Upcoming South Station Project?

The South Station project team recently held an open house to update the public on the predicted 4.5 year project to upgrade Boston’s South Station Transportation Center. The project includes updating rail and bus terminals, and building a new mixed-use tower providing office and residential space.

MBTA red and silver lines should not be impacted, and bus operations should remain the same, though construction work will be evident while the expansion is underway. The most noticeable change will occur in July, when eight doors between South Station and the outdoor concourse area will be closed.

What do you think about the project? Are you looking forward to a new transportation center? Think the project will be more of a headache than it’s worth? Vote in our poll and add your comments in the section below!

Web polls are unscientific and reflect only those who choose to participate. polls do not have any official significance and are only intended for the interest of our readers.

City Council Proposes Pre-Tax Transportation Benefit to Address Rising Traffic

Councilors Lydia Edwards (District 1) and Michelle Wu (At-Large) requested a hearing regarding the adoption of transportation benefit ordinances in an attempt to promote public transportation usage in the City of Boston.

“Transportation benefit ordinances are not new,” said Councilor Edwards. “There are many cities that already have them such as Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, D.C., New York, and the entire state of New Jersey.”

The ordinances would require businesses to offer their employees certain fringe benefits such as a pre-tax payroll deduction for public transit passes. Councilors Edwards and Wu hope that placing such measures would encourage more commuters to use public transportation, therefore reducing traffic congestion.

Councilor Edwards addressed critics of the mandate, saying “It does not cost the employers anything unless they have a huge amount of employees and they have an administrative cost.”

The ordinances could save employees money, especially those who have been pushed out of the City of Boston by rising rent costs or limited housing supply, by reducing the costs accrued from longer commute times.

“This is not going to fix our transportation infrastructure,” Councilor Edwards pointed out. However, she did express hope that the mandate could positively impact the rising traffic congestion by offering workers a tax break benefit.

Although Councilor Wu supports the mandate, she maintained that she is still working toward a future where it will not be necessary with a fare-free MBTA.

PLAN: Downtown Development Scenarios Workshop Invites Broad Community Discussion

PLAN: Downtown Workshop brings dozens to discuss growth and preservation balances in the downtown Boston area.

The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) invited the Downtown and Chinatown communities to the PLAN: Downtown Development Scenarios workshop on Thursday night at Suffolk University.

The first scenario is a growth-based model, with density bonuses based on a common baseline height established across Downtown. The second scenario is preservation and growth-balanced, with density bonuses based on varied heights determined by Character Area. In both scenarios, developers would be incentivized to contribute to a public-benefit fund to add capacity through the density bonuses.

Two discussion periods were held followed by reports back on the two presented scenarios. Reaction to both scenarios were largely mixed, with the “preservation” scenario gathering somewhat more support.

Concerns voiced by residents included street/curb usage, street directionality, pedestrian mobility, lighting guidelines, affordable housing, environmental factors, transport challenges, parking concerns, the future of Washington St and potentially extending a portion of the “Character Area” to include the Old State House as well as the old South Meeting House.

Chinatown residents called for increased awareness put towards building height/overall preservation efforts and floated the idea of a network of greenery and sculptural art showcasing the history and culture of the neighborhood.

“It’s important that we protect the elements which define Boston as a city: the character of Downtown, the Ladder Blocks, and the Wharf District.” said one resident. Another added,”sea level rise shouldn’t be overlooked, and has to be considered as a priority in this process.”.

Officials said no new shadows will be imposed on the Common or Public Garden. Urban Design Guidelines were covered as well, focusing on the organization of several key components including site/building design as well as elements affecting the public realm.

The next steps in the process will make use of two updates produced by the discussion: The planning team will work on locating an Affordable Housing Growth Area” within Chinatown as well as revisit height limitations and boundary locations in the Character Preservation Areas.

A Draft Document is expected for Late-April/Early May with a public meeting to be scheduled. The full presentation can be accessed here. The next three Advisory Group Meetings are scheduled for February 26, March 18th and April 29.

Filming for “Frills” Feb. 3–5 on Salem St. and North Square

Magic Wand Productions will be filming scenes for its new movie Frills in the North End on February 3 through February 5, 2020.

Note this is an updated schedule – filming on Salem St. has been changed from Monday, 2/3 to Wednesday, 2/5. North Square notice remains the same.

On February 5, Salem Street between Prince and Charter Streets will be closed to vehicle traffic. There will be no parking in this closed section from 4 p.m. – 4 a.m. Pedestrians will be able to travel to and from businesses and buildings.

On February 3 and 4, North Square north of the Moon St. split will be closed to vehicle traffic. Garden Court St. between Prince St. and Fleet St., and Prince St. between Garden Court St. and Hanover St. will be closed from 4 p.m. – 4 a.m. Traffic will remain open on the Moon St. side of the Square.

Equipment staging will be on Sun Court St. Parking will also be restricted on Richmond St., Cross St. and Atlantic Ave. Pedestrians will be able to travel to and from businesses and buildings.

Read the full notices from the Frills Location Department below. Contact Liliana Kondracki with any questions or concerns at or 617-398-7538.