It’s hard to miss Sgt. William E. Carter American Legion Post 16 on Blue Hill Avenue in Mattapan Square with its large, newly painted exterior murals – as well as a history dating back 104 years. But station officials say they have been left out of planning for the rebuilding of Mattapan Square to date and believe they are not wanted in the community.
This winter, the city unveiled very preliminary plans to elicit input on how to completely alter the layout and infrastructure of the plaza as part of the multi-year Blue Hill Avenue Action Plan.
Until about a month ago, Carter post commander Marydith Tuitt said, the post knew almost nothing of the plans. She worries that eliminating parking in front of the station will spell the end of the station, which is named after an African-American soldier who served during and around the Spanish-American War and, in 1919, was became the first chartered African -American Legion Post in Massachusetts.
“I know my members will tell you that we already feel pushed out of Mattapan and the community is not supporting us,” she said. “We’ve been here since 1972 and have been in Boston since 1919 and open our doors for community birthdays, baby showers, wedding receptions… We’ve never received anything in the mail, and no one has sent an email.”
For many years, the nearby doctor’s office allowed the Post Office to use its parking lot on weekends, and when the building was purchased by a church some time ago, this situation did not last. With most other parking options full or too far away, the only parking option was street parking on Blue Hill Avenue and Regis Road.
Parking is essential so that the Post can derive income from the rental of the village hall which supplements the dues paid by members and allows the building – which the Post owns – to keep its doors open.
Tuitt said she wouldn’t let the Carter Post dissolve under her watch.
“If we lose this on-street parking, we won’t have anything. We will own a building that we will not be able to use.
Tuitt, who was a longtime legislative aide to former state Rep. Gloria Fox, said she was aware of similar plans for a reconfiguration of Blue Hill Avenue that took place in 2011 and were outright rejected.
“You tell us it will be better for the community – urban development, beautification and public transit. But you don’t have one-on-one conversations with all parts of the community that are affected. »
City officials from the Boston Department of Transportation (BTD) and the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) said the Carter Post’s concerns were exactly what they wanted to hear at this point in the process. They said it’s not too late for the Post to participate, and in fact, it’s just the right time.
Kenya Beaman, a Mattapan resident who works for the BPDA, said they were taking notes and trying to hear from everyone.
“The city’s process is not a one-size-fits-all situation and we are still meeting with all stakeholders on Blue Hill Avenue,” she said. “We seek to meet other people in their space and that includes The Carter Post.”
She added that the opposition to bus operations on the central lane can sometimes be stronger than those who prefer it, and that the main objective of this project is the safety of all.
“The overall goal of this project and any project at this time is safety,” she said. “One of the fundamentals is to have a safe and accessible experience no matter how you move around.”
BTD’s Kirstie Hostetter said central lane bus operations are supported in transportation funding grants, but still need to be validated with the community – not to mention ideas for parking, sidewalks and parking lots. ’embellishment.
“This is just the start of those conversations,” she said, noting that they are still bridging the gap on two big processes – the Blue Hill Avenue process and the Mattapan Square process. “We still have a lot of design decisions to make with the community.”
The issue of parking is even more central at The Carter Post, as they have done extensive work inside, replacing walls and adding new bathrooms. Outside, in June, a new roof and an overall upgrade of the facade will be inaugurated. This will leave the station with a much better facility for rentals, but if major changes are made to street parking, it could all be for naught.
“My members are watching things going on and don’t know it, and these black service members don’t feel respected,” Tuitt said. “We weren’t invited to the table on that, so we feel like we’re not important.”
She said she would volunteer to convene a meeting of all parties to the post to voice concerns and give feedback that she says has been overlooked to date.