A packed meeting saw mixed reactions to the four proposals to activate the Navy Yard last Weds., March 6, in the Harvard Kent School – with the focus of some complaints being a Tall Ship restaurant in Dry Dock and a beer/wine garden in part of Shipyard Park.
The meeting started out with presentations from the four remaining proposals. The proposals for kayaking and for exhibits to come outside for the USS Constitution Museum are non-controversial and likely to proceed quickly.
However, a proposal by Anthem Group to activate part of Shipyard Park with a beer/wine garden, and a proposal by Balance Architects to put a Tall Ship with restaurant in Dry Dock, seemed to get more mixed results.
Michael Parker of the Friends of the Charlestown Navy Yard said they haven’t commented directly on the four remaining proposals, but they are in favor of activation of the Navy Yard.
“We still have to look at these proposals, but we feel it’s a good thing and we hope we can use it to leverage some improvements to the upkeep of the area, maybe the HarborWalk is a good starting point,” he said.
Barbara Babin said she likes the idea of the ship, but would much rather it be further from Flagship Wharf. She, however, is not in favor of the beer garden.
“I love the idea, but I don’t like it being so close to the residents,” she said. “I’m concerned about the draped lights.”
She said she is also concerned about the revenue structure, and just how much money goes to the Navy Yard upkeep and how much goes back to the BPDA.
Pam Hickey, a 20-year resident of the Navy Yard, was critical of the entire program, saying it overlaps with existing programming and seems to be more for the tourists and not Charlestown.
“Most of these proposals aren’t for the people of Charlestown,” she said. “They’re for the tourists and not the people here. I feel you’re not listening to us, the residents. It’s a feeling echoed throughout the city – that the BPDA serves developers. Dry Dock is the only totally pure view of the Harbor and an open view. I love coming through and seeing that. You’re putting a huge party boat and lights…You’re not offering anything the community doesn’t have…It’s people getting rich at the detriment of the community.”
The BPDA’s Devin Quirk said after the meeting that they disagreed that the effort is for tourists, noting that the entirety of the project is to attract more people form Charlestown and the city to the Navy Yard.
“We really do believe these are the right ways to achieve the activation,” he said. “There are people who have concerns and we will see how we can mitigate those concerns.”
He added, “I think one of our explicit goals in the program is advancing diversity and inclusion and breaking down the figurative barrier to the Navy Yard. There are promotional elements…This is targeting Charlestown and Boston. Will tourists attend? Sure. But the priority is for people who are local. I totally disagree this is for tourists.”
Anthem said they are aware of the importance of the Navy Yard, and feel the
“The Navy Yard is such an important, historic and beautiful part of Boston that should be available to a wide range of audiences,” said Chris Sinclair. “We firmly believe that our community and youth outreach initiatives, free public programming, wellness series and overall activation will fulfill the wants and needs of the neighborhood, the Constitution Museum, as well as spark interest from all areas of Boston and tourists alike. Our team’s goal is to maintain the integrity of the space while bringing greater accessibility and interest to it.”
The crux of their program is the gathering space, where they will produce programming such as youth activities, wellness programs, exercise and arts activities like plays.
The programming is free, and a revenue stream to pay for it is the beer and wine garden – which will be handled much in the way that the same type of space is handled on Castle Island in Southie.
Quirk said they would be finalizing licensing agreements for the pilot programs, and could send the agreements for a BPDA Board vote as soon as the March 14 meeting.
The idea would be to have these items in place by May, and disband them by October. He added that there is a claw back provision in the agreements, so if something isn’t working, they can’t take away the license mid-summer.