By Seth Daniel
When City Planner Tony Sousa recently passed through Everett Square, he said he noticed a young couple in front of the restored fountain area – happy, walking and taking pictures in front of the fountain.
It was exactly what a planner wants to see in the central part of the City, he said.
“I saw that young couple at the fountain walking around and taking pictures and I said to myself, ‘That’s what we want to see,’” he said. “As a planner, you want people in the square making memories and enjoying their time there…There is a lot of excitement and momentum for what can happen in Everett Square right now.”
That excitement, Mayor Carlo DeMaria said this week, has transferred into action as the City has hired Utile Design of Boston to perform a visioning and planning process for Everett Square – from the Fire Station to old Everett High School, and everything in between.
Already, DeMaria and his administration said, planners have been out in the Square at night analyzing traffic patterns. The City’s Facebook page now also has a traffic survey that is available to residents too.
DeMaria said he would love to see the Square enhanced, but he would also like to transform the Square into something that isn’t all about cars, commuters and gridlock.
“Right now, everyone cuts through Everett,” he said. “I want to try to put more traffic calming measures in. Maybe some day we can get a rail line back in Everett and you might see a lot of traffic calming initiatives gong on to deter people from just cutting through Everett. It’s a lot of work, but you have to start somewhere. Having Utile do this study is a really big step towards that vision.”
Combining that study of Everett Square improvements with the current state transit study going on in Everett, DeMaria said he would like to see the Square be less of a car-oriented place in the future.
“In the old days, we had trolleys coming down Broadway,” he said. “You would get on trolleys and go to Everett Station…Let’s get back to how it used to be. I know it was cool to own a car. I think now it’s not as cool to have a car. It’s cool to get on a trolley and go into Boston. I think we’re ready for that in Everett…When I was younger playing baseball in Babe Ruth Park, I would always see the trolleys going by. I’d like to get it back to something like that, something that could take all the cars off of Broadway and Main Street.”
He said he would hope that a solution in Everett Square includes having commuters on Rt. 1 get onto transit, such as a trolley or train, that would take them into Boston without their cars. Or,
Sousa said there would be a very public process regarding the study. Though they started preliminary work in January, the study is just now gathering steam. He said that they hoped to have something completed by the summer or early fall. At that point, they would begin having public meetings and gathering more public input.
Some of the preliminary ideas include historic lighting, streetscape improvements, new signage, and friendlier pedestrian walkways. It would also include making note of the many historic buildings in the Square.
The mayor’s office indicated that many of the changes would include inexpensive fixes and updates that would make a great impact for a small price.
Sousa said it was important to note that the study and any potential improvements would not be looking to replace what is in the Square, but enhance it. Sousa said the Square is very vibrant, with pretty much zero vacancies in the business district, but could be enhanced by having more residences in the Square.
“I love Everett Square,” he said. “The goal from my perspective from my perspective is how do we enhance it with the diversity we have there. It’s real diversity and not fabricated. I just see restaurants that are there and other types of businesses there. Even the churches; how do we capture those people after Sunday or Saturday services. They are there already. How do we get them to go to the bakeries and restaurants? We want to improve peoples’ experience downtown.”