Looking at the Alternative Plan

March 31, 2017
By

By Samuel (Sy) Mintz, AIA  AICP

I want to respond to a quote by Seth Daniels in March 23rd’s article titled “Alternative Plan to One Charlestown presented,” stating “former planner Sy Mintz has presented his “alternative plan” for One Charlestown no fewer than 17 times to small groups around the Town.”

To clarify, it is important to note that Mayor Walsh graciously granted to the IAG (Impact Advisory Committee) request, which was supported by the Charlestown Neighborhood Council as well as many community groups, a 90 day Moratorium until March 31st, so the Charlestown community could become informed, educated, and use the time to develop an “alternative plan” to “OneCharlestown,” this Corcoran Jennison Associates/SunCal plan of 9/15/16, to redevelop the Bunker Hill Housing, which was submitted to the BRA/ Boston Development and Planning Agency (BDPA) for Article 80 review.

The first eight open community meetings were to solicit Charlestown citizens’ comments, concerns and suggestions about OneCharlestown. The loud and clear Charlestown consensus community voice heard at all those initial meetings simply stated was “too much; too dense; too high; and would have an overwhelming negative lasting impact on the future of Charlestown.” This was in response to the massive construction of 3,200 housing units, achieved by the complete demolition of all existing Bunker Hill Public Housing buildings and replacing them, between Bunker Hill Street to Medford Streets, (running from Polk Street to Corey Street) with six story podium-type buildings and replacing buildings from Corey Street to Decatur Street, with a series of 14-, 18- and 21-story buildings.

The community consensus mandate, coming from those initial meetings was to significantly reduce the number of units, and to substantially reduce the scale, height and shadow casting impacts, as well as the other environmental impacts caused by this proposed massive development.  And additionally, to achieve a development by an ‘alternative plan’ that fits with the character, and overall variety and modest scale prominence of the other buildings existing throughout Charlestown.

Therefore, the plan that grew from this mandate will be called the “Charlestown Consensus Community Plan” (CCCP) because that is exactly what it is and represents, and should no longer be called or referred to as Sy Mintz’s Alternative Plan, which it is not.

Once the basic direction for this (CCCP) was developed it was stated at those initial meetings that this plan would be presented, discussed and modified from 9 more follow up community meetings held throughout most of February into early March, so that the newly named “Charlestown Consensus Community Plan” could gain the strategically important and necessary full community support to have this (CCCP) seriously considered, tested, and successfully implemented:

For the benefit of the existing residents, who have endured years of living in extremely poor housing conditions;

For attracting, new residents to the superior developed, mixed income housing environment;

By creating through this newly developed neighborhood the kind and quality of housing that fits into and supports Charlestown’s historic recognition as a very desirable Boston community that successfully works as a welcoming place to all who live here, while sharing these benefits with all of its citizens.

We will be presenting to the Charlestown Neighborhood Council monthly meeting at the Knights of Columbus on Tuesday, April 4, 2017 to share the latest presentation of the Charlestown Consensus Community Plan. We encourage the Charlestown citizens to attend and participate in the process to make our community a better place to live for all residents.

 Samuel (Sy) Mintz, AIA  AICP is a resident of Charlestown.