At long last, the bike path from Fresh Pond to Watertown is usable. Two years after its scheduled completion date, signs and pylons still declare “Path Closed,” but the surface is paved and striped and many pedestrians and cyclists use it.
The stretch of pavement (less than half a mile) took years to plan, design, and build. Some features are elegant: the nice benches and split-rail fences, the retention ponds nestled along the edges.
Others are questionable: the long entry ramp from Mount Auburn Street at Holworthy, constructed of pre-cast concrete that deposits cyclists less than 300 feet from existing access at grade. How many trees, excavation, and concrete would have been saved by simple signage? Where we really could have used an actual path: to climb from the pavement up the Star Market parking lot, there’s nothing but muddy tracks.
The city took out dozens, maybe hundreds of trees, and planted almost as many new ones back. Some have already died and been replaced.
The walls of underpasses and immense back wall of same-said Star Market have been painted a neutral tone: a blank canvas irresistible to graffitists. The wall has already been defaced, painted a second time, and graffitied again.
I don’t know what the city’s planning process entailed for this project. I only know it was long, and never included any notifications I received, a property owner in the immediate neighborhood. What’s clear is that the city spent exorbitant money and a lot of time, yet still missed a few key elements. The most glaring being the giant blank wall that will be filled with graffiti again and again until someone wakes to the reality: a mural will look great here!
Cambridge has many beautiful murals, my favorite being the imagine2018 mural on Mass Ave in Central Square. Actually, most all the city’s murals are in Central Square. I suppose this correlates with the prevailing notion that Central Square is cool and active, while Strawberry Hill is, well, beige. Did they think graffitists would not find a big, fresh painted wall in our tiny, quiet neighborhood? Do they actually plan to keep painting it over, providing fresh canvas again and again?
Strawberry Hill may not be as hip as Central Square, but we are not quite so boring as the blank wall of Star Market implies. And we would we certainly enjoy a mural.