Activating the Square

Activating the Square

Last Saturday, 3/27, two of WalkBoston’s staff had the pleasure of attending Consult LeLa’s Youth Engagement Committee’s first winter placemaking event “Activating the Square: Imagining the Future of Mattapan Square Together.” Despite chilly weather and a spot of hail, the event was lively and well attended, with residents enjoying games, youth performances, and food provided by Gourmet Kreyol and Fresh Food Generation food trucks.


“Activating the Square” also provided a venue for residents to learn more about how they can get involved with upcoming projects around Mattapan Square, such as the Blue Hill Avenue Transportation Action Plan and the Cummins Highway Redesign. After the performances, WalkBoston’s Iolando Spinola, Senior Program Manager and Ava Dimond, Program Coordinator, led a walk audit around Mattapan Square to discuss what has and hasn’t changed since our walk audits there in 2016 and 2022. 

This time, our route began along Cummins Hwy. and crossed to River St. before looping on Blue Hill Ave. and ultimately returning to the event via Fairway St. While much has changed for the better since 2016 (such as more age-friendly benches situated beneath trees, and slightly longer walk times to cross the street), walk audit participants still noted run-down sidewalks with tripping hazards, noise and air pollution from the significant traffic, and litter. Last August WalkBoston and Consult LeLa also collaborated on a Youth Workshop that conducted a walk audit along Blue Hill Ave. with a focus on extreme heat, lack of shade, high speed traffic, need for trash receptacles, and desire for bike lanes or biking infrastructure. Whether we’re in the middle of the sweltering summer or it’s a chilly day in early spring, these issues do a disservice to the neighborhood’s walkability and residents’ sense of safety.

Blue Hill Avenue is a “vibrant commercial corridor full of bustling minority-owned businesses” that deserves more investment and planning with equity in mind. The Youth Committee did a wonderful job convening Consult LeLa, Boston Cyclists Union, and Boston Transportation Department to present ideas and invite feedback on how best to reconstruct Cummins Hwy. and Blue Hill Ave. to make them safer, greener, and more accessible for everyone. 


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