Students Focus on West Lynn Revitalization Plan

Western Avenue and its neighborhoods have caught the interest of a group of MIT graduate students who have put their heads together to come up with ideas for revitalizing West Lynn.

Students looked at what could be transformed in an area from the Belden Bly Bridge new traffic circle at Market Basket and to the neighborhoods surrounding the area.

“We’ve been looking at what could be the future Western Lynn,” Alex Acuna said, a second-year student who worked with the other students in MIT’s Urban Studies and Planning program.

Last Thursday night at the Drewicz Elementary School, the students of assistant professor Justin Steil, of the urban studies and planning department at MIT, presented three different scenarios for the area: the Western Waterfront on the Saugus River, which connects the General Electric Athletic Association’s (GEAA) field and the Western Avenue corridor from the Saugus Line to the new traffic circle at Market Basket.

“It’s a great opportunity to look at the area,” said Mayor Thomas McGee.

The students believe that development of West Lynn is possible without displacing any current residents.

The first scenario, the Western waterfront that accesses the Saugus River, underdeveloped land. This is also an area where 70 percent of the housing stock was built before 1939. Constraints for the area include frequent flooding as well as soil and water pollution. Coastal resiliency also has to be factored into any future development.

The goal on this site, which is zoned Industrial, is to increase flood resiliency by using berms and marshes and unlocking the potential for Lynn’s waterfront. The project would include a linear park along the Saugus River.

The second scenario calls for reusing the GEAA field that is an under-utilized open space. Plans call for uncovering the Strawberry Brook that runs under a portion of the field. This is considered a prime location for maximizing recreation places. It is the students’ hope to be able to connect this field to the Community Path and Barry Park that presently exist.  In this scenario there are plans for low and medium density affordable and mixed-income housing options.

The third scenario, the Western Avenue corridor, focuses on the intersection of Western Avenue and Summer Street. Students noted that this was not a walker-friendly area with vacant and underutilized sites.

“Our goal is to improve street life with greenery, pedestrian and bicycle interventions in all three scenarios,” said student Jay Dev. “We can also strengthen the community with new community spaces, and by activating vacant and underutilized spaces.”

A final presentation will be given on Dec. 6 and should include ideas to address flooding in the area.

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