Even though MassPort occupies a significant amount of land on Charlestown’s waterfront, Councilor Lydia Edwards said the Authority isn’t giving Charlestown its fair share of mitigation – and many times it isn’t even inviting the Town to the mitigation table.
“When we walk away from the table, we should always know we’re walking away having got the best deal for Charlestown,” she said this week, noting that she has recently reviewed documents about mitigation for Charlestown. “Too often, Charlestown isn’t even invited to the table…I feel like the opportunity is now to push them to get as much as possible for Charlestown. The needs are there and there are so many ways they can help. If the answer from them is ‘no,’ then at least we know the answer. We have no idea now because we’re not asking. And if that answer is ‘no,’ it begs the question as to why it is a ‘no.’”
Documents provided by Edwards from an August 2017 presentation show that MassPort gave $14,370 to four non-profits in the Town in Fiscal Year 2017 for things like lights for Halloween, for the Kennedy Center Head Start and the Charlestown Cooperative Nursery School concert.
There is one Scholarship of $1,000 that goes to a Charlestown High School student who lives in Charlestown, and they sponsor 19 youth summer jobs at various locations around the Town (a value of $43,211). There were no Charlestown residents placed in MassPort internal summer jobs in 2017. The Authority spent $197,298 in procurement spending in the Town for Fiscal Year 2016, and the Authority employs seven Charlestown residents.
There is no PILOT payment made by MassPort to Boston for Charlestown. Instead, a regular tax bill is sent by the City.
To contrast, East Boston benefits from the $17 million PILOT, and saw $5.67 million in procurement spending in Fiscal Year 2016.
The Authority employs 63 Eastie residents, and makes $65,328 in charitable contributions to non-profits. They provide two scholarships worth $17,200, and $123,000 for youth summer jobs.
In addition, East Boston also gets $500,000 per year from MassPort for the East Boston Foundation, which is used in the community and controlled by the community.
Other money includes $75,000 for Air Inc. youth program, $170,000 for the East Boston Health Study, and $75,000 for the Piers Park Sailing. There are also eight commitments to maintain, secure and operate eight parks in East Boston.
MassPort is also a major taxpayer in the City, the third largest, but Edwards said that isn’t enough for Charlestown.
“They pay their taxes, but unfortunately, I don’t think that’s enough,” she said. “I would like to sit down with MassPort with our state representative and have a conversation about community benefits to make sure we take advantage of this opportunity – the opportunity to get the Charlestown community at the table so it gets what it deserves.”
She said some examples could be waterfront activation, scholarships, non-profit funding and other measures.
“I’m sure the people of Charlestown could come up with some great ideas of what they’d like to see,” she said.