Consensus Reached on Desired Future for Walter Street Parcel

The Roslindale Wetlands Task Force and the Longfellow Area Neighborhood Association (LANA) worked with residents at two workshops on October 1 and 22 to reach consensus on a desired future for 104-108 Walter Street. The community-developed plan would protect the wetlands while also creating four units of affordable ownership housing.

Sign the petition supporting this plan

Key aspects of the consensus proposal, voiced by neighbors during the community process, include:

Allocation of land uses

  • Open space largely at 108 Walter. The entire “rear” of 108 Walter would be permanently part of the Roslindale Wetlands along with the “stem” of 108 Walter that includes the existing Boston Water & Sewer easement and the strip to the north, to be owned by the City Parks Department or Conservation Commission and to be part of the Roslindale Wetlands Urban Wild.
  • Affordable home ownership largely at 104 Walter. The 104 Walter parcel would be expanded approximately 11 feet northeast to match with the BWSC easement line to contain four units of affordable ownership housing (two units in two buildings each) and four parking spaces.

Major elements

  • A pedestrian public access path to the Roslindale Wetlands would be created from Walter Street through the stem of 108 Walter to connect with the loop trail.
  • Protection of Roslindale Wetlands Urban Wild. The largest privately owned parcel in the designated urban wild area would be acquired and permanently protected through ownership by an Article 97-protected entity (Boston Parks or Boston Conservation Commission), preferably along with a conservation restriction held by Mass Audubon.
  • Creation of four units of affordable ownership housing. The expanded 104 Walter parcel would be used for two separate, differently sized two-family/townhouse style units, with a smaller-footprint dwelling in the rear to minimize impact on the wetlands and visibility from Coniston Road and the rear yard of 100 Walter.
  • Maintenance of the existing Boston Water & Sewer Commission easement. This will serve as the driveway for the housing on 104 Walter and also serve in part as access for occasional Boston Parks Department vehicles for maintenance to the wetlands.

Landscape element features

  • Landscape and privacy fencing buffer along the northeasterly boundary of 108 Walter (adjacent to 112 Walter). Invasive species, specifically the Norway maple trees, should be removed and replaced with non-invasive appropriate tree/shrubbery species that provide a full green buffer.
  • Landscape and privacy fencing buffer along the southerly boundary of 104 Walter (adjacent to 100 Walter). This would include the planting additional trees (three to four) as part of the buffer.
  • A green fence at the rear of 104 Walter to clearly demarcate the boundary between 104 Walter and the “rear” of 108 Walter (which will become a permanent part of the Roslindale Wetlands). The fencing should be incorporated with the landscaping, either as part of the fence or adjacent. The view from the Roslindale Wetlands of the fence should be green and vegetated.
  • Ample yard space between the two structures should be provided for future residents.
  • Landscape edge should be designed and planted between the BWSC easement/driveway and the pedestrian path.
  • Grading: The structures should be built and the site graded to protect the abutting properties from storm water runoff.

Parking and pavement

  • Four off-street parking spaces will be provided for the residents of the affordable home ownership units – one space per housing unit – on the expanded 104 Walter parcel.
  • No off-street parking for Wetlands visitors. Pedestrian, bicycle and transit access is encouraged.
  • Bicycle parking for residents and visitors is encouraged.
  • Permeable surfaces to enhance climate resiliency is strongly encouraged throughout the site.

Demolition

  • All existing structures should be demolished that are currently on the two parcels. This includes the two sheds on the rear of 108 Walter; the dilapidated old barn that straddles the current 104-108 Walter property line, and the existing blue house.
  • Recycle and reuse materials from the demolished structures as much as possible, either as part of the new affordable housing at 104 Walter or elsewhere.
  • Current tenants should be supported in relocation by the eventual ownership entity and developer with as generous a timeline and as much assistance as possible.

Housing features

  • Net zero design should be integrated in the design, construction and operation of the new affordable home ownership units.
  • Variety of unit sizes contained among the four units of affordable ownership housing offered on the site.
  • Context-sensitive design so that the homes look and feel like they are part of the LANA neighborhood and Walter Street, so that a similar scale, types of materials, and style are incorporated.
  • Configuration of the design of the housing should focus intensity of the uses away from abutters and the wetlands. Thus, entrances to the two-family closest to Walter Street likely should face Walter Street.

Climate resiliency will be advanced by this site plan and vision by:

  • Protecting the Roslindale Wetlands, which provides for storm water runoff storage, wildlife habitat, and tree cover for heat island mitigation.
  • Adding trees and landscape features to both 104 and 108 Walter that provide buffers, but also enhance heat island mitigation, absorb carbon, and facilitate absorption of storm water.
  • Net zero housing with four units of affordable home ownership.
  • Invasive species removal with the extraction of invasive Norway maples and other invasive species on the site.

Equity will be advanced by this site plan and vision by:

  • Creating four units of affordable home ownership in the LANA neighborhood, which is facing rising home prices and gentrification.
  • Net zero design with new energy-efficient construction enabling lower long-term operating costs.

Why demolition?

The two community workshops discussed the legal, financial, and material / structural maintenance concerns with affordable condo developments as well as the importance of energy-efficient construction and net-zero goals. The extensive interior reconfiguration gut rehab required to create two side-by-side units would likely negate most “embodied carbon” benefits of retaining the house. Additionally, the two community workshops as well as the immediate abutters discussed the importance of a site plan that provides adequate side and rear lot-line setbacks, that is consistent with the “street wall” along Walter Street, and that allows for a comfortable amount of usable yard area for the residents of the new housing. Considering all these factors, the community’s recommended vision is to remove the existing house and deteriorated outbuildings, reuse and recycle as much of the building materials as possible, and create two new structures of two side-by-side housing units each in a traditional and contextual design that blends in with the neighborhood.

The existing circa-1890s house has not been inventoried by the Massachusetts Historical Commission and the City of Boston has not determined it to be historically significant. Within the past ten to fifteen years, it was abandoned for at least one year over an entire winter season and its condition is not known.