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Case Studies - Environmental Justice (EJ)

View case studies conducted on the Environmental Justice (EJ) module.

Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts

Jackson Square Redevelopment Project, Boston, MA

The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC) and Urban Edge Community Development Corporation (UECDC) have formed a partnership to transform 11 acres of public and private land near the intersection of Columbus Avenue and Centre Street in Jackson Square, into a mixed-income, mixed-use, and sustainable transit-oriented development. The proposed project area is situated in an area of Boston in acute need of environmental justice. Some of the developments surrounding the project area include the Academy Homes housing development, the Jackson Square T Station, and the Bromley-Heath housing project, all of which have struggled with issues of poverty, crime, and public safety.

The redevelopment project, which will be a model for smart growth development is a great opportunity to advance environmental justice and revitalize the neighborhood. Some of the objectives of the redevelopment include:

  • 429 new housing units; 58% of which will be reserved for affordable to low-income families, and an additional 10% for affordable to moderate income families
  • A state-of-the-art youth and family center
  • Indoor active recreation facilities
  • 67,000 square feet of small and mid-scale retail space
  • A variety of new open space areas and plazas
  • Public realm improvements to encourage pedestrians, bicyclists, and the use of public transit
  • An integrated set of economic development strategies to maximize jobs and business opportunities for local residents

The Jackson Square redevelopment project incorporated an exemplary amount of community participation. Community meetings were the basis for the visioning and planning process, and there have been over 800 Jamaica Plain and Roxbury residents involved in all phases of the planning process, along with the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA). The project is also continually undergoing project review by a large, representative community advisory committee that was appointed by the Mayor.

In addition, Boston youth have had a key voice in all aspects of the redevelopment planning process, particularly in planning the Youth and Family Center. There are several youth from Jamaica Plain and neighboring areas that meet regularly as part of the existing design team for the project.

The Jackson Square redevelopment plan will improve current environmental conditions and limit additional adverse impacts through the following project components:

  • Redevelopment of vacant brownfields sites to an active, productive use
  • Using traffic-calming measures to improve the pedestrian experience
  • Planting of new street trees, creation of open space, and construction of green roofs to improve air quality and reduce heat island effect
  • Implementation of integrated sustainable design strategies in all buildings including a focus on the use of renewable energy and recycled materials
  • Introduction of transit-oriented development that provides dense, mixed-income housing along with ground floor retail to create an active and equitable neighborhood center

Urban Edge Community Development Corporation (UECDC)

UECDC works in partnership with residents, businesses, and government institutions committed to developing and sustaining stable, healthy, and diverse communities in Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, and surrounding communities in Massachusetts.

Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC)

The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC) works closely with neighborhood residents, organizations, and businesses to carry out community development projects that benefit low-income residents of Jamaica Plain. The JPNDC's mission is to revitalize Jamaica Plain as a healthy, diverse, and sustainable neighborhood through a comprehensive strategy of community empowerment, economic development, and affordable housing development.

Lawrence, Massachusetts

Dr. Nina Scarito Park, Lawrence, MA

The City of Lawrence is one of the poorest cities in New England. The city has a per capita income of just $13,360, a high school equivalency rate of 47%, and only 10% of residents have a Bachelor's degree. Home-ownership rates are approximately 32% citywide (compared to nearly twice that in the rest of Massachusetts), while unemployment rates are routinely twice the state average. The city also faces a backlog of more than 1,000 lien-encumbered vacant lots and abandoned buildings, environmental contamination, and a lack of greenspace.

Lawrence is making great strides in redevelopment and inclusive community revitalization. Abandoned and industrial sites are becoming opportunities for redevelopment and environmental restoration. One such property, is "the Brook Street site," a 2.7-acre former brownfield located in a densely settled residential neighborhood on the banks of the Spicket River. This former mill building and commercial laundry site had been abandoned for nearly 20 years, when a neighborhood planning process identified the site as key to local revitalization efforts.

The Brook Street site was identified as a property for park redevelopment because it was a substantial piece of vacant land in the middle of a large, dense neighborhood with few recreational green spaces for residents to enjoy.

Groundwork Lawrence, Inc. (GWL) and Lawrence CommunityWorks (LCW) led a number of community meetings where they received input from adult and youth residents on the project. Based on the park concepts most desired by the community, GWL commissioned a detailed park design and cost estimates from Copley Wolff Design Group, a Boston-based landscape architecture firm.

Now, named Dr. Nina Scarito Park, in memory of the accomplished Lawrence obstetrician who is said to have delivered 20,000 babies in the city during her career, the $2.9 million project was dedicated in the fall of 2006. The park was made possible through a combination of federal, state, city, and private funds, including an Urban Self-Help grant, which is administered through EEA's Division of Conservation Services.

The park includes:

  • two picnic areas for gathering, playing games, and eating outdoors
  • raised garden beds that enable residents to grow a variety of flowers and vegetables on the site
  • A playground that includes a swing set and high-quality, age-appropriate equipment for 2-5 year olds and 5-12 year olds.

Groundwork Lawrence

GWL is a local non-profit organization working to create sustainable environmental change through community-based partnerships. GWL is committed to "changing places and changing lives" through on-the-ground projects, education, and volunteer programs that help transform local communities.

Lawrence Community Works

LCW is a nonprofit community development corporation working to transform and revitalize the physical, economic, and social landscape of Lawrence. Since 1999 LCW has reclaimed over 20 vacant lots, produced 51 units of green and affordable housing, helped residents leverage over $15 million in local asset purchases, and waged campaigns to improve zoning laws and the municipal budget process.