November 23, 2005

I’m Thankful For…

...many things this holiday eve, including health, family, friends, my home and so much more. But specifically in the Livable Communities arena, I'm thankful for:

* The express bus from Newton Corner to Boston. Less than 15 minutes and, traffic permitting, you zip from an inner suburb to Copley Square - a rare case where local public transportation is indeed faster and more convenient than driving. Ah, if only such a bus could run to downtown Boston from Framingham, similar to the Logan Express.

* The new Amazing Things arts center in Framingham. For the first time, Saxonville residents can actually walk to good live entertainment.

* Garden in the Woods. A jewel in our community, the botanical garden is a beautiful place to stroll away an afternoon.

* Newbury Street, the North End, Public Garden and other highly walkable neighborhoods of Boston, proving that a city can have a strong economy (if real estate prices are any indication) AND pedestrian appeal.

* Coolidge Corner, Brookline. Where major auto roadways, trolley line and pedestrians manage to co-exist in harmony.

* Concord Center and the nearby Old North Bridge. Proof that a "suburb" doesn't need to be high-density urban in order to have a soul -- and a walker-friendly downtown.

* The Stapleton elementary school, Saxonville. Saved from closing by an override vote a couple of years ago, it's the North Side school that's best integrated into a surrounding neighborhood business district.

* MWRA aqueduct trails. Well, I'm not so thankful when inconsiderate dirt-bikers roar through them, ruining things for everyone else who wants to enjoy them (not to mention all the abutters); but otherwise, these peaceful places where residents can walk, jog, ski and snow shoe without vehicular interference (even if technically there are no trespassing signs up).

* Sichuan Gourmet, Oga's, Gianni's and other top-notch ethnic eateries. What fun is a neighborhood without great food?

* The Framingham Premium Cinema. Well, from the outside it's a pedestrian-hostile nightmare -- how I wish it was located in the midst of a neighborhood business district so you could walk to it, like the cinema in Waltham! But while pretty pricey, once you're inside, it's such a civilized way to watch a movie -- leather seats, loads of legroom, stadium seating so you can see the whole screen even if a Boston Celtic is sitting in front of you. And once you factor in the free soda and popcorn, it's not really alarmingly more than regular full-price admisison.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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