Allston Civic Association supports building more underpasses below bridges


by Meena Ramakrishnan, Allston-Brighton TAB

Allston, Mass. — All requests and proposals were supported at the latest Allston Civic Association meeting on Dec. 15. Presentations were also made about the state’s bridge reconstruction program and a condominium architect.

The owner of Azama Grill, Osama El Naggar, asked to extend the hours of his Middle Eastern takeout restaurant until 2 a.m. every day. Previously the restaurant at 54 Harvard Ave. closed at 1 a.m. Mondays through Wednesdays, and 2 a.m. on Thursdays through Sundays.

El Naggar said the eatery needs to stay open longer in order to serve his Muslim patrons who tend to work later. He claimed that college students mostly come in to eat late on the weekends. In-store security is provided after 11 p.m.

“Monday, Tuesday, no one is out to party,” El Naggar said. “Somebody who is Muslim who works at night, I will be there for him. When the students are out, I just want to serve my people.”

A new dish made with a Korean wheat-based cordial will be served at Myung Dong on 1st Ave. Owner Jennifer Lee requires a license to serve cordials so they can marinate the dish in a liquor similar to orange-flavored vodka.

Lee maintained that the cordial would be used only to prepare the dish and not sold to customers for drinking. Under the current license, customers cannot order alcohol without a meal.

“We’re getting the cordial license so we can marinate the meat,” Lee said. “We’re not adding anything to the alcohol license.” Condo project at 9-23 Griggs St.

Real estate attorney Paul Rufo presented an overview of an upcoming condominium complex at 9-23 Griggs St. in place of the current automotive repair garage. Since the project began in 2006, the plan has been updated to bring a five-story building of condominiums with 96 single units.

The project is under Mount Vernon Group architects, who plan to set aside 12 units for affordable housing along with rentals throughout the building. Units will be a mix of one-bedrooms and studios, and 101 parking spaces and will be provided. A Zipcar service and public transportation is located nearby.

The project has no variances and is shovel-ready upon approval, which it has already received from the Boston Redevelopment Authority, Rufo said.

ACA member Harry Nesdekidis recommended adding balconies outside the units to give the building less of an industrial warehouse feel.

“If you could put balconies near windows in the back of the building and add green space, it won’t look like a warehouse,” he said.

Underpasses beneath bridges

The president of the Charles River Conservancy, Renata Von Tscharmer, came before the ACA to explain how important building underpasses beneath bridges would be for pedestrians and bicyclists.

The ACA agreed to write a letter to the Mass. Department of Transportation in support of additional underpasses below bridges between Allston and Harvard University, the most urban and traffic heavy areas across the river.

Currently, bikers have to fight through traffic to make it across the Charles River. As there has been an enormous increase in biking, the city is pushing to make Boston more bike-friendly by bringing additional bike lanes.

“You won’t have to go up the bridge to fight the traffic [with underpasses]. That makes a much better walk or ride along the river,” Von Tscharmer said.

Since the MassDOT began the accelerated bridge program to repair and reconstruct deteriorating bridges across the state, she said now is a good opportunity to make bridges safer for all users by constructing the underpasses.

Even though it would require additional permits and cause delays, which are disliked by MassDOT, Von Tscharmer said the underpasses would improve access from both sides of the river.

“Just because it takes a little more work or a little more time, that’s not a reason not to go through with it. There is already a precedent at the Eliot Street Bridge,” she said.

Copyright 2010 Allston/Brighton TAB. Some rights reserved

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