Posts about Westwood Station
[Autoposted while I'm in France]
Way back in January 2006, I wrote about Westwood Station, a mixed-use TOD in Massachusetts. This project will use a former industrial park that's right at Amtrak's Route 128 station along the Northeast Corridor, a stop on the MBTA commuter rail, and right off Boston's beltway, Route 128.
Of course, many residents of Westwood and neighboring Canton and Dedham object. They moved to their sleepy suburban towns and worry about the traffic and impact on schools of new stores and residents. (In Massachusetts, each town pays for its schools, which often leads to bad land-use decisions as they compete to attract taxpaying malls to the edges of their towns while pushing the negative traffic impacts onto the neighboring towns.)
My post ranked very high on Google for "Westwood Station" (and still is), generating floods of comments back before GGW existed and when my personal blog brought in much less traffic. (When I launched GGW, I switched all the urbanism-related posts over, which is why now it looks like a GGW post).
(Full disclosure: Long after I wrote the original post, my sister-in-law was assigned to represent the town as one of the lawyers handling the project. She has nothing to do with this post or anything else I've written on the subject.)
Google search for "Westwood Station", above even the project's own home page. And it continues to be the most commented post, with comments coming in on a regular basis - eleven months after the original post!
I get email notifications of new comments on this blog, and every so often there's a comment on some really old post. The post that's generated this most often is January's This week, the developer himself, Jay Doherty, posted a comment, addressing the concerns about environmental protection (a red herring, I am pretty sure) and impact on the schools (the project is supposed to mostly draw young people and empty nesters. And he linked to a project site complete with many details, including maps.
It appears to closely follow many principles of smart growth, like a main street with one end at the train station lined with mixed-use residential over retail buildings. There are residential towers a little farther away abutting a park, but much of the park still touches roads so as not to feel too private; a hotel and office towers lie off the main street.
From the pictures it appears to be a mostly continuous streetwall, (hopefully) avoiding the has done in adopting a plan to create a town center on the former site of a dynamite plant. Of course, sometimes community input turns into NIMBYism. Hopefully the town of Westwood can overcome the no-change forces and build a real walkable community in the suburbs.
In Westwood, MA is the Route 128 rail station, a stop on Amtrak's Acela and Regional trains between Boston and the rest of the Northeast Corridor cities to the south. It is also a stop on the MBTA's commuter rail, and immediately off Massachusetts' Route 128, (in that area at least) better know to the rest of the country as I-95.
A short train ride from Boston, easy access to trains to New York, and right off a major highway - it's a perfect place to be something other than low-density single-family housing developments and office buildings with huge parking lots (or in this case, failing industrial parks). A few developers are planning a $1.5 billion mile-long "mini-city" according to the Boston Globe: a walkable, mixed-use development of stores and homes.
This is the sort of development we need to continue to promote. Many people do want to live outside major cities, but that doesn't mean they always want to have to drive 15 minutes to get to the nearest grocery store and battle traffic anytime they want to reach Boston. Transit-oriented development gives people a choice.
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