Bostonians’ concerns to shape citywide planning effort

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BOSTON – Affordable housing, better transit services and quality education are the keys to the city’s future, Bostonians say.

They’ve made their concerns known to the city’s long-range planning initiative, called Imagine Boston 2030. It aims to guide future growth by helping to create the first citywide planning document in 50 years.

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(Graph courtesy of the City of Boston)

Since October, the city program has engaged residents through text messages, suggestion boxes, community open houses, email, social media, visioning kits and Web surveys, asking residents, visitors and commuters how their lives could be better in 2030 and beyond. Thus far, the top three responses have been housing that every day people can afford, better transportation options and quality schools available to all, according to a forthcoming report.

“This input is an important first step in the planning process because it shapes the conversation about how Boston can leverage its unprecedented growth to create an even better city,” Mayor Marty Walsh said in a statement about the report. “Our overarching goal is to make sure everyone who lives, works and plays in Boston benefits from this growth, while setting the course for future generations to grow inclusively and have access to opportunity.”

(Graph courtesy of the city of Boston)

(Graph courtesy of the city of Boston)

Imagine Boston has proposed four focal points to guide the city’s growth, including accessible neighborhoods, inclusive economic growth, a healthy environment and investment in infrastructure, open space and culture.

The report outlines Boston’s job and population growth and transition from urban decline since 1980. It also reflects comments gathered so far that highlight concerns about strained transit systems, rising housing costs and uneven access to educational and job opportunities. The goal is to find a way to address such issues while ensuring the city can attract new workers and businesses.

But city planners also want to hear more.

Starting late last month, 10 outreach workers for Imagine Boston 2030 have been canvassing the city to engage residents, visitors and workers in conversations about Boston’s future. To take part, residents can attend community workshops and connect with street team members as they travel the neighborhoods.

Online, Imagine Boston 2030 has paired up with coUrbanize, a local start-up that has posted a digital mapping tool where Bostonians can add their ideas for preservation, enhancements and growth.

The final Imagine Boston 2030 plan is scheduled for a spring 2017 release.