Navy Yard Residents Wary of Large Activation Projects

Residents of the Navy Yard heard six activation proposals for the Yard in a meeting on Dec. 12, and some of the more ambitious projects didn’t get such a warm welcome.

The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) held the meeting on Dec. 12 to let the community hear six, 10-minute presentations from applicants to the Request for Proposals put out this year. The BPDA has been seeking, with community approval, to activate the Navy Yard for several years. The RFP was the first concrete step in finally taking action on that.

But the actions submitted might have been more than the community or the BPDA was gambling on.

BPDA officials said some of the plans submitted are much larger in scope than they expected, but that they have accepted them and will be taking comments until Dec. 31.

BPDA staffer Devin Quirk said they have not even opened up the financials yet on the project, but are waiting for significant community input.

The six proposals come from:

  • Anthem Group.
  • Balance Architects.
  • DC Beane.
  • Sea Boston Kayak.
  • Upton + Partners.
  • USS Constitution Museum.

All six gave presentations, and the 10-minute limit was a challenge for some of the presenters, with a few not even getting to the heart of their presentations before time was called.

The packed room mostly reacted with surprise to the larger-scale projects from Balance, DC Beane and Upton.

“Even considering parking an entertainment boat in DryDock 2, which is dedicated to recreation, just will not pass,” said Barbara Babin, referring to the Balance proposal. “It is a residential area. We only allow Courageous Sailing 10 nights a year on their dock…An entertainment boat that’s 275 feet just will not work. We need to keep DryDock 2 open.”

Terry Savage said it’s important to keep in mind this is a landmark, and developing things like a restaurant boat or offices in rehabilitated cruises ships may not be appropriate in that context.

“We need to keep in mind the Navy Yard is a National Historic Landmark,” he said. “I’m not going to judge any of the proposals, but clearly you need to do some research on what National Historic Landmarks are…This needs to be done with real sensitivity.”

Michael Parker of the Friends of the Charlestown Navy Yard said that if the BPDA considers the larger projects, they might want to try smaller things first.

“If you make a mistake on a larger scale, it’s hard to move back from that,” he said. “It might makes sense to start on a small scale and pilot these big, ambitious ideas.”

Noise was also an issue, and the Navy Yard has been fairly quiet over the years. With any large-scale activation plan, that could like change.

Christine Colley of Flagship Wharf said noise may seem small potatoes, but it is a quality-of-life concern.

“If you have people over now, you have to shut the windows to keep the sound out from some locations,” she said. “It might sound petty, but it’s a big deal to us. If you’re going to add noise elements, you’re going to have a hard time winning us over.”

Some of the most well-received plans, incidentally, were the smaller scale ideas such as the kayaking plan for DryDock 2 – which includes a dock for kayaks and a rental house next to it. Also well-received was the plan by the USS Constitution Museum to refurbish its patio, put up posters and historical figures cutouts.

Quirk said they encourage residents to comment on the proposals by Dec. 31.

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