Globe editorial

Advice & Dissent

June 13, 2009
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Debate the Greenway now
The Globe editorial page began the week calling for a serious debate over the future of the Rose Kennedy Greenway, the new city park district we called "disappointing" so far. And a debate is what we got - not from the mayoral candidates, as we requested, but from readers rarin' to go.

►Peacenik56 wrote: "We need lively urban spaces with activities that draw people on a continuing basis . . . There should be an overall vision for the whole Greenway, not just a piecemeal developer's cookie-cutter approach. Come on Menino and the BRA, wake up and smell the coffee. Where are your professional standards?"

►There was much discussion of developer Don Chiofaro's plan to redevelop the Harbor garage near the Aquarium into what he calls an "iconic" high-rise. DotAve67 wrote: "The Greenway planning process shouldn't be rushed just for the convenience of one developer - let the city do its job in a measured way and the developer can wait. Chiofaro's argument is ridiculous, the Greenway runs through a downtown with hundreds of buildings, what's one more Hong Kong skyscraper going to do other than cast it in shadow and block access to the waterfront?"

►But Topdog5281 liked the plan: "BRA and Menino are complete disasters. Just take a look at how downtown Filene's Project is looking? Chiofaro has a great plan to make part of the Greenway successful. Boston seems to be falling in the ranks and we need to add new bold architecture to the sky. The Hancock and Pru are dinosaurs."

More votes for bold development came from Snakecharmer: "Build big and build now. The greater the density in downtown Boston the better - for tax revenue, street life, urban dynamics. Extract amenities from developers in exchange for variances, but don't force them to scale back. The only impediment should be a design review to determine architecture quality, and prevent the banal boxes sprouting in the South Boston Waterfront."

►NorthEndTim took issue with our lack of enthusiasm for the park itself: "When the Globe says the Greenway is a disappointment to Bostonians, are they talking about the hundreds of people who relax, sunbathe, eat lunch, toss a Frisbee, or watch their children play in the fountains in the North End parcel every weekend? The Globe should avoid conflating 'as-yet-unrealized-development-potential' with 'disappointment.' My impression is that folks in the neighborhood are thrilled with the Greenway as a much-needed bit of public green space."

►Finally, one resident had other priorities. Thanos73 wrote: "How about building something this city really needs, more damn parking spaces."

Unfairness takes its toll
Yesterday, we took on the thorny question of inequities in the state's toll revenue collection. High-powered lawyers representing toll-payers have filed suit against the Turnpike Authority, claiming Pike drivers are subsidizing other road costs, including the Big Dig. We agreed that Pike riders subsidize roads they may never drive on, but said an increase in the gasoline tax was the most rational way to fund transportation.

►Alfa Romeo wrote: "Tolls are necessarily inequitable, even in electronic form. And any barrier-based toll system is perfectly idiotic. The carbon footprint is gigantic. Get rid of the tolls. Raise the gas tax. And going off on a tangent, get rid of the Turnpike Authority, hire an independent auditor to go through all state expenditures and hire an independent prosecutor to follow up on what the auditor finds."

►Regional differences of opinion were frequent. Jimpillsbury wrote: "Until commuters from the North and South help pay the Big Dig dept, any gas tax increase would be unfair to those who travel from the west on the Pike. Every possible cut should be made at the State House, including cutting the salaries of the Legislature."

►NevskyBaby spoke for many in opposition to another tax increase. "Until I got to that last paragraph about the gas tax, I was nodding my head along with the editorial. . . Then my jaw dropped. In exactly what way will an additional tax on western commuters address inequity? I was expecting the rational solution of a toll tax on the south entry to the city, but instead I see this?"

A new revenue proposal came from SingleCommuterWithBagel. "The Big Dig benefited North/South commuters and air travelers using Logan alike. I'm not sure how to fairly tax or toll the commuters (I hate the idea of new toll plazas and hiring more employees), but adding a $5 surcharge to all plane tickets beginning or ending at Logan would add $3.9 billion over 30 years (at approximately 26 million passengers per year, per the sometimes useful Wikipedia). That's not a payoff amount by any means, but it is a good start."

And then there was tedso, who promised a "simple solution" to transportation funding woes: "A single tollbooth in front of the State House requiring all legislators to pay going in and going out or surrender their outrageous pensions . . . Did I forget to say I'm cynical?"

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