It is all too easy to fall into a funk in the era of Covid 19. Massachusetts has not yet peaked in the level of infection. We all spend many hours a day sequestered at home all alone or with immediate family. Even when out and about under blue skies, we worry about our safety as we watch a family group approaching on a narrow sidewalk. Paranoia strikes even deeper as we navigate our way through Whole Foods and Walgreens and the post office. Every other customer is a potential vector whose breath may eventually land us in a hospital on a ventilator.
Fortunately, good things are also happening in the Garden City, thanks to the efforts of spirited residents and their representatives. City councilors Alicia Bowman, Andrea Kelley, and Andreae Downs are working with their colleagues to formulate a Safe Streets Initiative to expand public space for pedestrians and cyclists by limiting automobile traffic on certain streets to residents and deliveries. Imagine, for example, Lake Avenue, the glorious road that skirts Crystal Lake from the Highlands to Beacon Street. On a sunny spring day throngs of people on foot or on bike arrive to enjoy vistas of the sparkling lake and emerging spring foliage. Sadly, it sometimes gets too crowded for proper social distancing. At least for the duration of the pandemic, why not curtail the through traffic and turn such streets into malls? That’s what the city councilors will consider doing in the coming days. Creating safe streets might also ease the congestion at popular destinations like the Commonwealth Avenue carriage road and trails through Cold Spring and other parks around town. Here’s hoping that the mayor and the citizens get behind this initiative.
Speaking of Cold Spring Park, here is more good news. Thanks to a partnership between city government and the Friends of Cold Spring Park, work has begun on repairing the park’s badly eroded trails. Although the project will proceed in several stages, already certain stretches of the trail are far safer and less muddy than before. The funding sources were both public and private, a model for future efforts to improve our green spaces and athletic facilities. Local taxes alone will not cover the costs of maintaining our shared assets adequately. Cold Spring Park serves many constituencies, from birders and strollers to dog walkers and soccer players. Its trails get heavy use, especially in the fall when both North and South’s cross country teams hold their home meets there. Keeping those trails safe and well-drained will remain an ongoing challenge. For now, though, things are looking up.