Resolution calling for a Beacon Street Olmsted Bridle Path restoration study
|Official Text of the Article
WHEREAS, Beacon Street is a cherished and prominent public space which provides one of the important east-west routes across Brookline and also serves many local residents and businesses;
WHEREAS, Beacon Street was designed by Frederick Law and John Charles Olmsted in the 1880s, "to make [it] attractive, not only because of the unusual convenience secured, but also because of the sylvan beauty to be enjoyed in passing over it;"
WHEREAS, the Olmsteds' design for Beacon Street conceived of it as, "first, [being] a spacious, direct trunk-line thoroughfare, specially adapted to pleasure driving, riding, and walking; and, second, [having] a cable railway...laid in the midst of [the] avenue...[and] screened on each side by two rows of trees growing in well-prepared borders;" and it remains essentially so to this day, except for one element;
WHEREAS, the Olmsteds' original design included a dedicated facility along Beacon Street's median to accommodate (horseback) "riding" use, a facility known as the "bridle-way"---which abutted the "railway" on its wider side and was distinct from the (driving) "carriage-way" further toward the street's outer edge there---that was enjoyed by local residents for decades before it was obscured in the 1930s;
WHEREAS, the Olmsteds' goals---that the "bridle-way" (specifically) be a space "where those using it may have greater enjoyment of the sociability of a promenade" and that Beacon Street (broadly) be both "a resort, and...a route of travel"---were served, in their original design, by consolidating "riding" activity in a dedicated, common (two-way) facility and by positioning both the median "bridle-way" and the two outer-edge "sidewalks" directly alongside (and thus within the shelter of) shade-tree plantings;
WHEREAS, separating modes of traffic with differing mass and/or speed ---as a means for reducing conflicts and increasing safety and comfort for all street uses---was a design principle championed by Frederick Law Olmsted, was a central aspect of Beacon Street's original design, and today is considered a transportation-engineering best practice in the design of major thoroughfares;
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that Town Meeting requests the Town Administrator to assign staff as he deems appropriate to a Scope of Services necessary to engage a consultant to study the concept and feasibility of establishing a protected path suitable for two-way, non-motorized travel along the full length of the Beacon Street median in Brookline, estimate the costs associated with such a study, and identify potential funding sources. Said Scope would be prepared in sufficient time to be considered for inclusion in the Town's FY 2021-2026 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).