Standing outside the Bunker Hill Housing Development in Charlestown on Tuesday, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, BC ’09, presented his $2.78 billion Imagine Boston Capital Plan for 2020-24.
The mayor cited the housing development as the oldest in the country and said that the residents deserve to have modern, 21st century living. To do so, the City of Boston will be renovating and upgrading the development.
Noting the current lack of federal support for investing in the city, Walsh emphasized the need for Boston to continue investing in itself for the betterment of all Bostonians.
“Affordable housing is the bedrock of a community,” said Walsh, who disclosed the city’s plans to allott $30 million to the Bunker Hill development.
He plans to implement the housing model in Charlestown around the rest of the city. While not having the federal government’s support makes financing capital projects much more strenuous on the city, Walsh proudly shared that Boston is entering its sixth consecutive year of having a “top tier” AAA bond rating, which aids in securing funding.
“It allows us to access capital and move the city along in a responsible way,” said Walsh. “Our goal is to improve the quality of life in every single neighborhood.”
A significant portion of the budget, $1.2 billion, will go toward improving roads and sidewalks throughout the entire city.
“In every neighborhood, we’re focusing on safety and eliminating traffic injuries and fatalities,” Walsh said.
The plan also seeks to prevent accidents by strengthening relations between bikers, pedestrians, and automobiles city-wide. Along with repairing roads, the Imagine Boston Capital Plan will help replace fire trucks, build new firehouses, and add a new EMS facility in the Seaport.
The mayor honed in on the city’s plans to combat the effects of climate change during the impending years.
“We’re leading a national charge to cut carbon emissions here in Boston, but also set the tone for the rest of the country,” Walsh said.
The city will dedicate 10 percent of all new revenue from the capital budget to climate resilient projects. The Resilient Boston Harbor initiviate is a system of parks, beaches, and trails which will be physically elevated to prevent damage from floods and rising sea levels.
“What we’re doing is connecting people back to the water here in Boston—by creating safety from sea levels, but allowing access to the water,” Walsh said.
Furthermore, $23 million of the budget will go toward revitalizing Franklin Park while $20 million will aid Boston Common. In total, $245 million will be set aside to upgrade parks all over the city.
Along with the large investment in parks and waterfront spaces, Walsh has a $500 million plan to “upgrade school buildings” and to “make sure every student has access to 21st century education.” During the process of city-wide renovations, new kitchens will be installed that focus on serving fresh, healthy food.
Walsh paid specific attention to investing in City Hall Plaza. He plans to turn the largely brick space into the “people’s plaza” through forming a more accessible, enjoyable space for the public. Cheers from the audience outside the Bunker Hill Housing Development were particularly noticeable when Walsh cited investments in the arts and libraries across the city.
The Imagine Boston Capital Plan will also focus on a comprehensive recovery system on Long Island. The opioid epidemic is hitting Boston hard, the mayor said. The Capital plan will fund the bridge to island and welcome all of those needing help—not just Boston residents.
“We don’t turn anyone away,” said Walsh. “The bridge is bridge to recovery, a bridge to hope.”
The mayor once again reflected on the city’s plans to undertake the Imagine Boston plan without federal support.
“People’s lives and futures depend on what we do every day,” he said.
Featured Image by Keith Carroll / Heights Editor