The Longfellow Area Neighborhood Association is celebrating 25+ 1 years of service and advocacy to the neighborhood. We thought we’d look back and see if we could identify 25+1 Accomplishments. To our delight, the list of accomplishments kept growing for this all-volunteer, neighbor-run organization. LANA has done amazing things for the neighborhood — we’ve have successfully advocated and worked for:
- Affordable housing which facilitated 43 units of senior housing and four units of affordable home ownership are underway;
- Creation of a playground for children of all ages at Fallon Field;
- Roslindale Wetlands;
- Placemaking with the Pocket Park at South and Walter;
- Good development within the neighborhood;
- Safer streets; and
- Family/ community events, such as the After Party following the Roslindale Day Parade.
See how LANA has been making a difference over the last 25+1 years.
- 1990s. Longfellow School becomes Senior Housing. Longfellow School by Boston School Department in 1989. Longfellow School sat idle for several years after it closed. LANA began as a citizen’s advisory committee on the reuse of the closed Longfellow Elementary School on Walter Street. Many neighborhood residents supported and advocated for the creation of affordable senior housing. Although a highly desired use today, senior housing was not initially the City’s preferred use. A politically connected developer seeking to operate a trade school had the inside track to become developer. The citizens’ advisory committee (the nascent LANA organization) diligently advocated for senior housing, finally succeeding. The City designated Rogerson House as the developer which worked with the citizen’s committee, now the Longfellow Area Neighborhood Association. Longfellow House opened as 44 units of affordable senior housing in 1999. It has been owned and operated by Rogerson House ever since.
- 1995. LANA become official. LANA is incorporated as a nonprofit and secures tax exempt status. The of LANA begin with the citizens advisory committee composed of neighbors to the Longfellow School. After successfully working to preserve Longfellow School for use as affordable senior housing, committee members sought to continue addressing neighborhood needs and issues by forming the Longfellow Area Neighborhood Association.
- Annually. Fallon Field – After Parade Event. The Roslindale Day Parade ends at Fallon Field. LANA in the early years organized a Family Field Day following the parade at Fallon Field. LANA continued sponsoring the Family Field Day until the Roslindale Day Parade Committee began taking the lead approximately a decade ago. In 2020, LANA again resumed sponsoring the event with the Parade Committee. This year in 2021, the Family Field Day is being renamed The After Party with music, children’s events, community tables, and fun following the Roslindale Day Parade.
- Ongoing. Clean-Ups/ Boston Shines. LANA regularly participates in annual spring clean-ups and Boston Shines events throughout the LANA area. We also work with the Roslindale Wetlands Task Force on clean-up days in the Wetlands. A feature of several clean-up and neighborhood improvement days has included tree plantings. Roslindale Wetlands Task Force with help from Boston Natural Areas Network and Grow Boston Greener planted 74 trees at the Roslindale Wetlands. LANA collaborated with Greening Rozzie and planted trees at the Roslindale Commuter Rail Station in 2011. LANA volunteers have planted daffodil bulbs at Fallon Field, the pocket park, and Arboretum over the years.
- Ongoing – LANA Zoning Variances & Development Consultation. As part of its neighborhood service mission LANA provides a forum for community consultation for proposed development projects and for projects requiring zoning variances. LANA usually doesn’t support particular projects or variance requests and is historically very judicious in opposing them, but rather offers the community an opportunity to learn about the proposals, ask questions and raise concerns, and taps into the experience and institutional knowledge of the neighborhood’s longer-term residents.
- 1990s. Neighborhood-wide Yard Sale. During LANA’s early years, it organized and sponsored a neighborhood-wide yard sale. Nearly every block in the LANA area had one or two households, sometimes more, who were offering basement, attic and garage treasures for sale drawing people from all around the Boston area.
- 2001. Roslindale Gardens at Longfellow House designed and constructed. Sally Muspratt, local volunteer landscape designer, donated design services for the asphalt-covered grounds surrounding Longfellow House that created the Roslindale Gardens. Sally was recognized by Mass Horticultural Society for the design and installation of Roslindale Gardens.
- 2000-2005. Save the Wetlands Campaign. The Roslindale Wetlands Task Force launches a neighborhood campaign with hundreds of red and white Save Roslindale Wetlands lawn signs popping up on yards throughout Roslindale. Over 1000 signatures were secured to save the wetlands. The campaign successfully stopped development at the wetlands on 104-108 Walter Street, securing a no development commitment in 2005. This understanding was subsequently tested several times by the owner/developer resubmitting variations on the proposal to build on the wetlands. A byproduct on the Save Wetlands Campaign was the transfer of a one-acre portion of the wet section of 104-108 Walter to the Boston Conservation Commission for permanent protection in October 2005.
- 2003. Permanent Protection of Wetlands First Secured. Roslindale Wetlands Task Force organizes and secures the transfer of 22 tax foreclosed parcels to permanent protection to the Boston Conservation Commission (BCC). Another four parcels were transferred to BCC in 2005.
- 2000s. The Parklet at South and Walter. The reconstruction of the South and Walter Streets intersection created a simple seating area with a tree and a bench. Jane Lewis asked LANA to help her turn it into a more welcoming space with flowers and greenery. Jane led the effort, planted many plants, watered regularly and organized spring cleanups. We now think of it as “Jane’s Parklet”. Many a Board member spent a spring Saturday raking, mulching and weeding spurred on by her enthusiasm.
- The 2000s. Neighborhood Potlucks. LANA organized annual potluck dinners amongst neighbors and hosted all residents of Longfellow House. Potlucks dinners were held in the community room at Longfellow House.
- 2002. Walter Street Gate at Arnold Arboretum. The Arnold Arboretum’s director at the time removed the original, historic wrought iron gate at the Arboretum’s Walter Street entrance to serve as spare parts to repair other historic gates to Arboretum entrances in Jamaica Plain. The Arboretum then replaced the Walter Street Gate with a chain link fence. The Arboretum’s director justified the action, claiming publicly to LANA members that Walter Street was “the back of the Arboretum, and nobody lives there anyway, and the view looking out from the Arboretum is marred by the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center.” LANA then appealed to the City of Boston’s Parks Department to preserve the gate. LANA found evidence to support the gate’s importance in the original plans by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who argued that each gate into the Arboretum was of equal importance and should be viewed with an outside perspective, looking into the Arboretum. With funding from the city, LANA saved the gate and taught Arboretum administrators how much their abutting neighbors in Roslindale value the Arboretum.
- 2004. Walter and Centre Street Redesign. Following a rear-end collision of LANA’s president at the intersection by a commuter from Rhode Island, LANA began a decades-long appeal to state officials to allocate funding for the redesign of the accident plagued intersection, beginning with then-State Sen. Marian Walsh, followed by State Sen. Mike Rush and Reps. Jeffrey Sanchez and Ed Coppinger. LANA argued that when accidents occur at the intersection in Roslindale (even when caused by drivers from out of state), every insured driver in Roslindale sees their auto insurance premium go up, because insurers set premiums based on the risk that they will have to cover a loss in a certain location. After years of lobbying, a state engineer’s report officially confirmed that the intersection as built failed state safety standards, paving the way for the redesign of the intersection, which is now underway — almost 20 years after LANA began its effort. LANA never gave up!
- 2006-2008 – Roslindale Rezoning & Neighborhood Plan In 2006 LANA’s then-president co-chaired the Roslindale Advisory Group that worked with the City and a consultant team to update the neighborhood’s zoning, which hadn’t been amended since the 1950s. The updated zoning was more responsive to community concerns, established a design review component to encourage more attractive new development, and in Roslindale Square lowered parking requirements and increased height and density allowances that have facilitated much of the new mixed-use revitalization projects that have been built over the past decade. The City adopted the Roslindale Neighborhood Strategic Plan in 2007 and the new zoning code and zoning map in 2008.
- 2009. Arboretum – Weld Hill Conservation Restriction. Most of the Arboretum is owned by the City of Boston and leased to Harvard for 999 years for use and management as the publicly accessible Arnold Arboretum. There are 4 parcels owned directly by Harvard and not subject to that lease and in 2003 Harvard proposed converting the largest of those parcels – the 14+ acres at Weld Hill – into an administrative and research facility and changing the underlying zoning from Residential to Institutional. Mindful that in the 1960s the Hebrew Rehab began as a small facility in the City-owned 9-acre Joyce Kilmer Park and then expanded to take up that entire site, the LANA neighborhood worked with the City and with Harvard on a binding agreement that the northern 7.8 acres of the site would be developed as the administration building and supporting structures, and the southern 6.4 acres would be protected as public-access open space with no structures or parking areas. At that time the Arboretum was adamant they did not want to install solar panels at the site and resisted planning to accommodate future solar panels either on the new building’s roof or mounted above the new parking area (which is underlain by geothermal piping). The community process to strike a balance between buffering the neighborhood from intensive development along Centre Street with the Arboretum’s long-term institutional needs took about 6 years of meetings and negotiations. The Declaration of Development Restrictions was recorded August 26 2009 in the Suffolk Registry of Deeds in Book 45420 Page 176, and the Plan was recorded that same date in Book 2009 Page 304.
- 2009, 2020, 2011 and continuing. Roslindale Wetlands Trail Maintenance. The Roslindale Wetlands Task Force secured resources and funds, working with LANA, to undertake trail maintenance at the Roslindale Wetlands. This effort included collaboration with the Boston Natural Areas Fund, the Youth Conservation Corp, Boston Parks Department, especially the Urban Wilds program, as well as volunteer days with groups such as the Boston Bar Association.
- 2013-2016. Fallon Field Playground Improvement Advocacy. It was found that at the time Roslindale has just two playgrounds to serve over 6,000 children aged 14 and under, which was the lowest ratio of playgrounds to children of any Boston neighborhood in 2013-2014. Nearly every neighborhood except Roslindale and the Fenway were not served by water features in any park. In addition, there has not been a single renovation project for any playground in Roslindale listed in the city budget from FY06 through FY14. As a result of diligent research and mapping, a capital improvement budget for Fallon Field Playground improvements as funded in FY2015 when Boston Parks hired a landscape architect to design an upgraded playground. LANA and neighbors were active participants in the design process and at a series of community meetings. Many community suggestions were incorporated in the final design and construction of the playground we now enjoy. Improvements included a spray deck water feature, traditional and non-traditional play features, play elements that can engage and challenge children across ages, as well as one of the tallest slides in the Boston area. The active involvement of LANA and neighborhood residents enabled the construction of the playground, including successfully securing additional city funds when bids came in over budget. Today, Roslindale and LANA have one of the nicest playgrounds in the City.
- 2015. Bussey and Walter Street. In recent years the traffic at the intersection of Bussey St and Walter St increased dramatically as did pedestrian activity. LANA, in close cooperation with the Arboretum and Hebrew Senior Life, advocated for signalizing the intersection. The City responded positively. Now new signals provide for safe, protected crossings while expediting traffic flow. The new intersection has been a success for all involved. LANA also spent time working to ensure there was a pedestrian crosswalk as well at this intersection.
- 2015-2017. 878 South Street. The developers of 874-878 South first came to a LANA meeting in 2015 with a design proposal that was displeasing to most residents. LANA reps worked with the developer to adapt the design so that it was more appropriate and fit better into the LANA neighborhood along with WalkUP Roslindale, which took the lead. The Roslindale contingent pushed hard for a better design than what they originally came out with. Our small group included the two of us, Adam Rogoff, Gradon Tripp, Rob Orthman, and Rebecca Phillips, and LANA resident and architect Michael Williams. The original design proposed for this development was sorely lacking. As a result of LANA’s and WalkUp’s advocacy, the developer fortunately took several of our comments to heart and has now proposed a revised design which, while not perfect, is much improved, resulting in the opening of this new multi-family building by the pocket park in 2021.
- 2016. Walworth and South Intersection Improvements. Working with City Councilor McCarthy, LANA successfully advocated for a new traffic light, with a pedestrian crossing button, for safer access to Fallon Field and the new playground. LANA also made sure that the reconfigured intersection met ADA accessibility standards, enabling both wheelchairs and strollers to more easily and safely use the intersection.
- 2016. Walter Street Charrette and Traffic Calming Advocacy. LANA organized a design day or “charette” to seek out residents’ ideas for improving Walter St. Every household on Walter St was invited as well as general LANA membership. A good turnout resulted in a lively discussion of problems and opportunities. This working session developed a consensus around issues like the need for traffic calming, better bus stop locations, bike lanes, and safer pedestrian crossings. Some of these needed improvements were implemented and some, like better sidewalks, are ongoing areas of concern.
- 2016-17. Arboretum – Weld Hill Conservation Restriction & Solar Installation. In 2016 the Arboretum’s then-new director proposed installing ground-mounted solar panels in the 6.4-acre no-build protected open space area at Weld Hill. While being very supportive of sustainable energy, the neighborhood was concerned that violating the development restrictions would set a poor precedent both for future potential developments in the no-build section at Weld Hill as well as for other City neighborhoods relying on such protections as they work to accommodate substantial Harvard-led institutional expansions. LANA worked with Harvard and the City and in 2017 the Arboretum committed to locating the new solar installation completely within the 7.8-acre development area.
- 2017-2018. 882 South Street. Mitch Rosenfield approached LANA for support and non-opposition to establishing a retail cannabis shop at 882 South Street, a shuttered retail outlet that currently has grates. A standing room only crowd attended several LANA meetings. Although controversial throughout Roslindale, LANA neighbors were more concerned about traffic, parking, removing the grates, and the overall upgrade of the entire building façade. There was very little opposition within the LANA area. Securing commitments for grate removal and total building façade upgrade from Fairway Botanical, LANA supported a letter of non-opposition enabling Fairway Botanicals to advance with permitting process. Building permits were finally issued in 2021, and internal work has begun.
- 2020. Remembering George Floyd & Advancing Equity. In June, the LANA Board issued a statement mourning the death of George Floyd and the many others who have died due to racial injustice. LANA reject systematic failures that cause inequalities. But the Board wanted to do more than issue a statement. Later in summer 2020, LANA convened a discussion of what we can do together to make our neighborhood welcoming and safe for everyone. The discussion and racial reckoning reinforced LANA commitment to supporting the creation of affordable home ownership at 104 Walter to help advance equity. LANA formed an Equity Committee to help us focus and address issues of racial injustice and to become a more welcoming neighborhood.
- 2020-2021. 104-108 Walter Street Project. Following over 15 years of successful advocacy to protect the Roslindale Wetlands from development intrusion, LANA and the Roslindale Wetlands Task Force updated its approach and strategy to permanent protection of the largest privately-owned parcel in the Roslindale Wetlands (108 Walter). The Working Group researched options, worked with abutters, held site walks, talked with City and elected officials urging the City to acquire 104-108 Walter for four units of affordable home ownership and permanent protection of 108 Walter as part of the Roslindale Wetlands Urban Wild. LANA worked with the City by preparing and securing the LAND grant award for $387,005, to secure funding from the Commonwealth, advocating with state and city officials for funding and acquisition, and hosted site walks for officials involving the neighborhood residents. LANA worked closely with Boston Parks, the Conservation Commission, Dept of Neighborhood Development and Boston Planning & Development Agency. Councilors O’Malley Arroyo, Campbell, Essaibi-George, Flaherty, and Wu all supported LANA’s advocacy.
104-108 Walter Street Project Enabled the Permanent Protection of the Largest Privately-Owned Parcel in Roslindale Wetlands. As a result of LANA’s work on the 104-108 Walter Street project with the Roslindale Wetlands Task Force advocating for climate resiliency, the largest privately owned parcel in the Roslindale Wetlands was acquired by Boston Planning & Development Agency in December 2020, and subsequently transferred to the Boston Conservation Commission in 2021. The acquisition culminated nearly 20 years of advocacy regarding this parcel. 104-108 Walter Street Project is Creating Affordable Home Ownership. LANA working with the Roslindale Wetlands Task Force successfully secured Mayor Walsh’s support for City acquisition through the Boston Planning & Development Agency’s acquisition of 104 Walter Street for four units of affordable home ownership, City for creation of four units of affordable homeownership. To reach this goal, LANA organized and sponsored two virtual design charrette meetings focusing on reuse of 104 Walter Street. LANA obtained a small grant from CEDAC – the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation, which administers funding for pre-development from the Robert S. Kuehn Foundation. These funds helped LANA retain the services of PlaceTailor to develop a site design for 4 units of affordable home ownership using a net zero / passive energy approach. This laid the ground work not only for the land acquisition, but also the subsequent designation of Habitat for Humanity as the developer by BPDA in 2021.
+1. 2020-2021. Ecological Restoration of the Roslindale Wetlands. The continued volunteer work of clean-ups, trail maintenance and advocacy for the Roslindale Wetlands Urban Wild laid the ground work for the Ecological Restoration project now underway at the Roslindale Wetlands. LANA participated with the Wetlands Task Force and neighbors in 2 virtual public meetings sponsored by Boston Parks Dept to develop on project design, which includes extensive invasive removal, upgrade of entrances to the Wetlands, trail enhancement and a board walk over the year-round wet areas (budget permitting).