The conglomeration of neighborhood groups calling for a complete Master Plan of the Town continues to grow in strength, with a number of groups, individuals and elected officials meeting on Saturday to discuss the idea.
Organizers Amanda Zettel, of Charlestown Preservation Society, and Julie Hall, of the Charlestown Historical Society, said the effort has become like a runaway train that cannot be stopped as momentum has continued to build for a Master Plan.
The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) did concede earlier this spring that they would embark on a planning initiative for Rutherford Avenue, Sullivan Square and the edges of Charlestown in 2020. However, they did not indicate they would work on an entire planning effort for all of Charlestown – which is what gave birth to the current neighborhood rally cry.
Zettel said they now have 34 groups represented and have many others who are curious about what such a Plan would look like in practical terms.
“At this point, we’ve logged 600 signatures on our petition,” she said. “We have a good amount of people involved and we believe there will be a lot more coming soon. The mayor is interested too. He has asked Julie and I to keep in touch and chat about what we have to say.”
State Rep. Dan Ryan attended Saturday’s meeting, and aside from some robust conversations not related to the Master Plan, he said he does support the idea of planning for the Town – as he has in the past.
“Yes, I support planning. Always have,” he said. “The final parameters or what we want to call it does not concern me so much as not wasting any more time. There are a lot of questions that still need to be answered about future development. The BPDA seems willing to come to the table and begin those conversations. I’ve secured some DCR (state) money to ensure there is some state involvement. We have the resources in the community through mitigation and other means. We just need to pull it together.”
Councilor Lydia Edwards also attended Saturday’s meeting, specifically there to inform the crowd about how planning efforts have worked in East Boston. She said she does believe Charlestown needs an entire plan.
“I thought the Master Plan meeting was a robust discussion on the topic,” she said. “Ultimately we could all agree we do need a transparent pan for Charlestown. We believe the best way to get that is a true, community-driven process. We need for the BPDA to come back out…I fully support a Master Plan and think it needs to encompass all of Charlestown and make sure we know the whole community supports it as well. We don’t want to get out too far ahead of the whole community.”
Edwards said it might be wise – within the current process that has started – to have the BPDA come out, as Rep. Ryan had them do a few years ago, to go over all projects and land ripe for development.
Zettel said she and Hall – and those now involved – are interested in making sure there is predictability and thought put into each corner of Charlestown ahead of time.
“If we can work with the BPDA and say what we need as a community, that helps everyone know what we need,” she said. “It’s much harder to fight for things like open space after the fact when things are drawn up and designed already…The developers that I’ve talked to so far say they want predictability first. They want to know what the community wants. If they know that ahead of time, they know how to finance it and how to design it. They want to know what the community wants in advance.”
There is no additional meetings planned right now for the effort, which is known as the ‘02129 Neighbor Alliance.’ However, anyone wanting to get involved or learn more can send an e-mail to [email protected]