A workshop in New Bedford next Tuesday will allow Ward 2 residents to learn about the impact the impending arrival of South Coast Rail and the ensuing development it will bring to the area will have on their neighborhoods.

“It’s exciting but it’s definitely going to be a big change, not only for the city but for the neighborhood,” Ward 2 City Councilor Maria Giesta said. “Change can be good and bad, as we know, so I’m excited but I’m also aware that this can change a lot of people’s lives.”

At Giesta’s request, the City of New Bedford and the Southeastern Regional Planning & Economic Development District (SRPEDD) put together this workshop to better explain what is planned with the two Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) districts that will be built up around the city’s two rail stops.

The workshop will be held on Tuesday, June 21 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Normandin Middle School, located at 81 Felton Street in New Bedford.

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The two TODs that are planned will be in the area of the Church Street and Whale’s Tooth stations; the Church Street TOD will go from Tarkiln Hill Road to King’s Highway, down to Coffin Avenue and Ashley Boulevard, Giesta said.

A brochure explains what the idea of a Transit-Oriented Development district is:

“It’s an approach to rethinking our neighborhoods as places we can walk, bike, and take transit instead of driving. Usually, this means promoting mixed-use neighborhoods, where houses are next to businesses and stores, so everything is easy to walk to. It also means allowing more people to live and work in the area, or as we call it, higher densities.”

Read the brochure here: attachment-June-2022-We-Are-Back-Recap-and-Brochure-NBTOD

Giesta said she’s been a supporter of South Coast Rail since day one, and that “it’s about time” that New Bedford is getting rail service to Boston. However, she said she wants to make sure that residents that are used to quiet neighborhoods, such as where she lives off Ashley Boulevard in the area of Brooklawn Park, understand that there will be increased development that will bring more businesses and housing to the area.

“So those quiet neighborhoods may not be as quiet as they used to be,” she said. “I just want people to know their quality of life might change somewhat. I think it’s important that people know that.”

Giesta said she plans on spending this weekend handing out flyers to make people aware of the meeting, and will probably be taping them to residents’ doors so that Ward 2 can turn out en masse for the workshop.

“These are the people that live there, so they have the right to hear what’s going to happen, and also to have input,” Giesta said. “Like everything else, you may have a voice, and they may not listen to you, but I'm hoping at least they’ll know how the neighborhood feels about this project.”

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