Letter to the Editor

IT’S TIME TO COME TOGETHER AND FIGHT FOR A MASTER PLAN FOR CHARLESTOWN

Dear Editor:

Our neighbors of East Boston and South Boston are working toward a Master Plan for their communities to have a say in what is BEST for their neighborhoods. While the Master Plan is being worked on, the concept of “Interim Planning Overlay District,” or IPOD is put in place. This is interim zoning planning to protect the neighborhood character and manage future development.

Charlestown should also step forward and implement this concept as it grapples with the myriad of issues such as traffic, an unhealthy, unsafe quality-of-life and density challenges in our one square mile.

The IPOD will allow the residents of the neighborhood of Charlestown, to play a key role in developing future land use policies while guarding growth in a manner sensitive to our community.

In other words, the IPOD would be implemented as the community, the Department of Planning and Building and the Mayor work toward creating a Master Plan as well as changing some of our outdated zoning. The process of creating a Master Plan for Charlestown may take years, but the IPOD gives a little extra protection to the community, while the new zoning is a “work in progress.” Another benefit of an IPOD is giving added protection to Charlestown from unwise developers jumping in while the “iron is hot.”

Basically, the IPOD would put a moratorium on building, perhaps up to one year, so, as to give the community time to engage in the process of figuring out what kind of building is appropriate in the fabric of our one square mile. 

The important key here with the IPOD is to protect the neighborhood character. Charlestown is a historical treasure. With an IPOD in place, the residents, community groups and community leaders will have input to preserve our history, build appropriate housing and businesses as well as maximizing open space, while supporting neighborhood resiliency and preparing for climate change.

This process will be done in tandem with the city and community to determine a shared vision for the future of our neighborhood.

There needs to be community discussions regarding reasonable growth. This will lead to establishing standards to ensure that development is consistent with Charlestown’s scale and character.

On the plus side, the IPOD will eliminate the need for variances and zoning changes, as well as the zoning appeal process.

What steps do we need to take to implement this process in Charlestown?

Discussions among our neighbors, community groups, and other stakeholders such as businesses is a first step to generate interest, while questioning, learning, educating, researching and tossing ideas around to try and fully understand this important and worthwhile endeavor.

After the community comes to a consensus, the next step is to present to the Mayor and the Department of Building and Development that, indeed, Charlestown is in in need of a Master Plan.

Charlestown, due to being one square mile, is not front and center for creating a Master Plan according to recent correspondence from City Hall, as the Mayor and BPDA are reluctant to fund this. We, the residents, need to OVERWHELMINGLY convince the Mayor and the BPDA that we are the ones that are held hostage in our community, not only within our space but from all the surrounding building that is taking place.

Just a reminder, there are 13 parcels along the Rutherford Corridor extending to Sullivan Square that potentially could become towers and complexes as high as 20 or 30 stories.  

We can either accept constant gridlock, a compromised quality of life, increased density, an infrastructure that is inadequate and the potential climate change issues or we can come together and fight to get a Master Plan for Charlestown that is acceptable to all of us. Protection for Charlestown cannot wait. Action is needed now.

Your help is necessary and will be greatly appreciated in creating a Master Plan for Charlestown. As residents you have a valuable asset in this process, your voice.

Please visit the site, WeThePeople02129.org for any questions, input and ideas you might have. We will update and provide additional information as this process unfolds. This is a community project as we are all in this together and need each other’s support to achieve our goal of a shared vision for this special One Square Mile.Ann Kelleher

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