Possible Change by BRA Could Affect Community

April 9, 2014
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The Boston Redevelopment Authority is floating an idea in Charlestown to begin using Impact Advisory Groups or IAGs for large projects in the neighborhood.

Historically since the 1980s the Charlestown Neighborhood Council (CNC) has been the overseer of projects in the neighborhood. The CNC has given recommendations to the City of Boston in regards to design, scope and mitigation regarding any project being constructed in the neighborhood.

While other, larger neighborhoods in Boston have used IAGs successfully as a way to bring representatives from across a neighborhood together to focus a neighborhood-wide effort on a project. For example, in neighboring East Boston, an IAG was formed to oversee the design and construction of the new branch library. There, representatives from Eastie’s three neighborhood councils and residents in the impacted areas were appointed to make sure the project ran smoothly.

However, Charlestown’s relatively small size (one square mile) has made the CNC the defacto IAG for all projects over the past three decades.

Now, there are a lot of unanswered questions of why Charlestown would need IAGs and whether or not an IAG would be repeating work the CNC is already doing in the community.

CNC board member Dave Whelan said there’s some conflicting information on how the IAGs would operate in the neighborhood.

“The biggest question I have is how an IAG would work in concert with the CNC,” said Whelan. “With the CNC already making recommendations, some accepted and others rejected by the city, would using IAGs for projects be redundant?”

Whelan said it’s his understanding that the CNC would still be part of a community process on large projects before an IAG steps in and makes recommendations to the city on size, mitigation, etc.

“We have to see how the creation of IAGs would impact a process that has been in place since the 1980s,” said Whelan.