By the Chinese Progressive Association and the Asian Community Development Corporation
Yesterday evening starting at 6pm, MassDOT, along with the Boston Redevelopment Authority, held its fifth and final public meeting at the State Transportation building, where it unveiled the final guidelines and Invitation to Bid on Parcels 25 and 26. The Chinatown community has dedicated countless hours attending all five meetings and submitting oral and written comments during and after each meeting. The Chinatown community has patiently followed along with MassDOT’s public process, repeating the community’s needs time and time again. MassDOT has failed to respond in good faith and as a result the Chinatown community felt it had exhausted its options and was compelled to walk out en masse.
A community meeting about public land parcels on Kneeland Street took place June 7 at the Transportation Building. The site includes the Reggie Wong Memorial Park, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) District 6 Office at 185 Kneeland Street and the Veolia Energy steam power plant at 165 Kneeland Street.
The meeting was the fourth community meeting to present MassDOT guidelines and the Invitation to Bid (ITB) for potential redevelopment of MassDOT Parcel 25 and Parcel 26, respectively the district office and steam power plant.
Reggie Wong Memorial Park is one of Chinatown’s few open spaces. It hosts nine-man volleyball tournaments regularly, a street sport developed by Chinese immigrants with roots in Toishan. A traveling tournament was formed in the 1930s. Local teams today include the Chinese Freemasons, the Boston Knights and the Boston Hurricanes.
As the main recreational open space in Boston’s Chinatown, Reggie Wong Memorial Park is vital to the neighborhood, even though it doesn’t look like much: two basketball courts and a tennis court, lined on one side by trees, wedged between on- and off-ramps for I-93.
Because of its proximity to the highway, the park is also swarming with particulates that residents can’t see, but that a new study suggests could be increasing their risk of suffering heart attack or stroke. With the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) looking to sell off Reggie Wong park and an adjacent parcel for development, community groups are advocating that a replacement park — which the developers will be mandated to create — address air quality concerns. They and the researchers are also calling on developers of new buildings to install air filters, to mitigate the effects of pollution.
For years, Russell Eng has coached high school volleyball teams at Reggie Wong Memorial Park, which is conveniently located near public transportation in Chinatown.
It’s also near the interchange of two highways and exhaust vents for Big Dig tunnels, making the park one of the most polluted places in Boston.
Now, Russell is wondering whether the risks of the pollution outweigh the benefits of the park’s location.
A new study of Boston residents who live or spend a significant amount of time near Interstate 93 and the Massachusetts Turnpike has found that their exposure to microscopic metals and chemicals spewed from vehicles increases their chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke. Continue reading →