Introducing Greater Four Corners Action Coalition: Fighting to Empower the Residents of Dorchester and Mattapan
By Bob Hatchey
For 28 years, the Greater Four Corners Action Coalition, (GFCAC), has been advocating to improve the quality of life and empower the residents of two of Boston’s poorest neighborhoods. Unfortunately, the recent economic boom that has helped Boston to become one of America’s fastest-growing cities has left neighborhoods such as Dorchester and Mattapan behind. Organizations like GFCAC work very hard to see that residents of these neighborhoods get a fairer shake.
GFCAC began in 1991 when a group of residents, Clergy and law enforcement officials got together to strategize on ways to improve the lives of its residents. They were originally known as the Four Corners Public Safety project. In the early days, they created neighborhood watch groups and worked to reduce crime and get neighborhood youth involved in sports and other worthwhile activities. They worked to steer youth away from crime and toward improvement and increased community involvement. Four Corners refers to a intersection where Bowdoin and Washington Street meet.
Today, GFCAC concentrates on Transportation justice, equity, neighborhood stabilization and public safety. GFCAC organizes events for youth and conducts training for residents. One of the trainings focuses on mortgage foreclosure prevention. Residents are taught their rights as homeowners and how to effectively negotiate with banks.
Mela Miles is the lead community organizer for GFCAC. She is most interested in transportation justice. “In the early 1980’s, they moved the Orange line out of our neighborhood and replaced it with buses which lowered the quality of life here”, she says. “We had to fight hard attending many public meetings, and the MBTA finally offered us the Silver Line”. She called it the “Silver Lie” because it did not offer nearly the same kind of transit into down town as the Orange line once did. The portion of the Silver Line that traverses this neighborhood is above ground bus or “bus rapid transit and must contend with very heavy traffic. The only rapid part is the tunnel that goes out to Logan Airport.
Earlier this year, Mela Miles and the GFCAC convinced State representative Daniel Cullinane to file H2985, An Act establishing rapid transportation for the Fairmount Corridor. This bill, if passed into law, would make major improvements to the MBTA’s commuter rail Fairmount line. This line traverses 9.2 miles through the neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan and Hyde Park. This corridor is very poorly served by the MBTA especially when compared with many other neighborhoods currently served by rapid transit. H2985 would make this above ground line run much more like the rapid transit lines and it would be known as the Indigo Line. Trains would run on this line every 15 minutes during rush hour and every 30 minutes during the rest of the day. This would give these neighborhoods something very close to the service that neighborhoods currently served by rapid transit take for granted.
State Senator Nick Collins has also filed an accompanying Senate bill and its number is S2046.
Very recently the advocacy of Mela Miles, GFCAC and others paid off in a big way with the opening of the Blue Hill Station on the Fairmount line. This station has already cut the commute time from Mattapan into downtown Boston from around 1 hour to a much more manageable 20 minutes. Residents of Mattapan now hope that it will be a destination, not just a place from which to commute. Apparently, service has been improving on the Fairmount line with fewer missed and diverted trains.
Aa you can see, GFCAC has cemented itself as a valuable resource to the residents of Dorchester and Mattapan. The future of GFCAC looks bright.