The Charlestown waterfront along the Mystic River remains largely hidden and inaccessible – a stark contrast to the east side which has seen significant investments in the Harborwalk and other waterfront parks.
Through a robust community outreach process, which is kicking off with an Open House Event on June 14, the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) will create a shared-vision to connect people to the Lower Mystic River.
“Currently the Lower Mystic between Charlestown and Somerville has a lot of ‘potential’ and ‘opportunity’ – code words for areas that are vacant, underutilized, and/or cut-off from the water,” said Amber Christoffersen, Mystic Greenways director and project lead. “While there are some challenges, this area is about to experience growth unlike any other place in Greater Boston. And now is the time make sure that this development improves liveability and connects people the waterfront, both locally and regionally.”
The project is funded by the Barr Foundation through its Boston Waterfront initiative. Additionally, the project is building off of the work of Climate Ready Boston, addressing flooding and heat island impacts, while providing the co-benefits of public amenities. The project area, located between Sullivan Square and the Little Mystic Channel and Tobin/Mystic Bridge, lacks contiguous waterfront access and walking and biking routes that connect to regional greenway networks. Furthermore, the low-lying lands of Sullivan Square and the AutoPort are susceptible to coastal and inland flooding in the near-term.
Christoffersen said that MyRWA has been very involved in the upper Mystic River, and was founded in Arlington and Medford areas. Now, she said, they realize there is a lot that can be done for waterfront access in Charlestown. They are particularly interested, she said, in the debate about the Little Mystic Channel land in the Designated Port Area (DPA).
“Our office is in Arlington and a lot of our work started in Arlington, Medford and Winchester,” she said. “We’ve been focusing on the freshwater side, but we realize there is a lot to do on the Lower Mystic. There is so much potential for waterfront improvement, even if it’s just trees. We’d really like to get the City to think about these forgotten areas.”
Already, MyRWA conducted a successful planning initiative last summer for the forgotten area known as the Malden River – which runs through Everett, Medford and Malden. After a summer-long planning initiative, they came up with a Greenway plan that has already won awards for its concept and design. They hope to do the same in Charlestown.
MyRWA will kick-off the effort with an Open House to share designs ideas from Climate Ready Boston and to ask what kind of waterfront access, open spaces and walking/biking improvements residents want to see in the neighborhood.
The kick-off will take place on Thursday, June 14, from 5-8 p.m. in the Schrafft’s Center and its docks, 529 Main St.
To RSVP to the event or to learn more about this project, go to MysticRiver.org/Charlestown.