Letters to the Editor

Walking the Walk and Talking the Talk

To the Editor,

As I glanced at the morning’s local newspaper [September 3, 2021], the headline shouted out, “Swamped and Stunned”. It only took a few seconds to reimagine the Blizzard of 78 and the headline in my head would have been, ”Swamped, Stunned and Stranded”.

After finishing my nursing shift at the Mass General late afternoon on the 6th of February 1978, I was anxious to get home, catch up with the family, have dinner and settle in to watch a movie on TV. Before long with no warning, our house on Revere Beach was surrounded by water, we were trapped.

Trapped not just for one evening but for the next four days, as the tides came in and went out. The only moving activity were the sea gulls, Army and rescue vehicles.

How could this happen? Mother Nature really does rule as the confluence of a full moon and high tides came together, unpredicted and catching everyone by surprise,

 What came as a surprise in this week’s Charlestown Patriot Bridge, is the headline, “Decorated veterans join Charlestown residents in opposition to a Pier 5 park.”  One of the proposals is advocating for a few units of housing be dedicated to the veterans. A few units of housing for a few veterans? What about the rest of the veterans and the general population?

Where are they to go and enjoy the harbor, greenspace and the peacefulness that we all crave?

Coming from a family of veterans, I am always in awe of our servicewoman and men who have dedicated their lives for this country. I was privileged to volunteer as a Red Cross nurse in the early 70’s at RAF Lakenheath Hospital as my drafted husband served his tour of duty in England.

It was always humbling and an honor to care for and listen to our service folks. It is still rewarding as I have not always been far away from the veterans. Whether it be a homeless shelter, soup kitchen, a local park, or random encounters here and there. It’s always gratifying that they share such personal and remarkable stories and I think, it’s made me a better person.

Would I be so foolish to advocate for any of my family, veterans or anyone to be a resident of Pier 5? NO!

Why would I advocate for anyone to be in harm’s way? Why are there proposals to put any type of residences on Pier 5? Where is the commonsense from the Boston Planning and Development Agency to even entertain any residences on this Pier?  I can only surmise that a waterfront park, greenspace or climate resilient body is not a money maker.

It’s time for this disingenuous chapter of the BPDA to stop and do what’s best for the community, veterans, and visitors.

It’s also time for the BPDA to stop using the poor excuse that there is no money or too costly of a repair for a waterfront park.  Decades of collecting millions of dollars after every sale and resale in the Navy Yard, begs the questions.  Where is the money? Why wasn’t the decaying Pier 5 addressed and fixed in a timely fashion? It seems like a gravy train that gives back to the BPDA over and over again, and then some.

The only residents on Pier 5 should be the seagulls and other birds as they can make a fast getaway when the flood waters appear, and they will. I was witness to this. I can talk the talk as I have walked the walk and watched as the sea gulls and other birds flew off to safety while us humans coped and tried to put our lives back together, as we are now witnessing across this nation.

Our petition. Pier5.org is now in Spanish and Chinese and we are happy to report over 3000 and counting signers, Thank- you to this community and beyond for your support, we will not let you down.

 Can we all please sit down at the table, work together and correct past mistakes for the 20,000 residents, 500,000 visitors and countless veterans that are deserving of a place of honor at this historical site?  

Ann Kelleher

Reader Cites Errors in Pier 5 Coverage

To the Editor,

To be open about my biases, let me first inform you that I am a member of Restore Pier 5.

I am writing to express my view that either this news piece was very poorly researched or (and I hope this was not the case) intentionally misleading. 

There are two factual errors. First, there is no organization named Save Pier 5, although this might have been confused with Restore Pier 5. Second, while it is implied that the present housing proposals being considered would significantly benefit veterans, I am not aware of any preferential treatment being offered to veterans. 

 The title of the piece is “Decorated Veterans Join Charlestown Residents in Opposition to a Park on Pier 5.”  And yet, there are no residents of Charlestown cited let alone quoted.  Where were they?

 Given the estimated expense to repair Pier 5, the group Restore Pier 5 was organized to initiate an effort to obtain public funding from the Federal Government in order to make it financially possible to preserve this unique asset for public use and to keep it in public ownership. 

Pier 5 is a rare opportunity to preserve a significant space open for public use. Given the Infrastructure and other spending bills being considered in Washington, we believe we are in a unique to get adequate funding to do the necessary repairs to retain Pier 5 for many and not just benefit developers and others through private and restrictive ownership.

Stephen O’Brien

Pier 5 Coverage Rankles Reader 

To the Editor,

The staff written article, “Decorated Veterans Join Charlestown Residents in Opposition to a Park on Pier 5,” is inaccurate and represents a cynical and despicable manipulation of Staff Sergeant Mills, the Patriot-Bridge and all veterans. Pictured with Staff Sergeant Mills and Mr. Lyons are Mr. Caulder and Mr. Nolan who are principles of 6M, one of the developers vying for BPDA approval to build private exclusive for-profit housing on Pier 5.

The 6M BPDA proposal mentions nothing about veterans. Only 13 percent of the units will be affordable housing. Their proposal is for floating housing that is not handicapped accessible due to variably pitched ramps and tidal change. The residential development proposals for Pier 5 will NOT be “housing for Veterans and middle-income residents” stated erroneously in the article.

The content of the article is an attempt to discredit the many Charlestown residents who favor a waterfront park on Pier 5. They are not a “handful”. Over 2,700 have signed the petition of the Pier 5 Association to create an open access, public, climate resilient, open space waterfront park on Pier 5.

On August 26, an estimated 300 Charlestown residents from all areas of the community joined the Save Pier 5 event in the Navy Yard. Dan Ryan and Lydia Edwards attended this event. Who are the “Charlestown Residents” Staff Sergeant Mills and Mr. Lyons are reportedly joining? No one else is mentioned.

This article was created to oppose the growing movement for saving Pier 5 as a resource for all and not just as a benefit for a few. Pier 5 belongs to everyone. The article’s content should have been vetted for accuracy. The Patriot-Bridge should apologize to readers and Staff Sergeant Mills.

I am an Army veteran of the Viet Nam era. A waterfront park on Pier 5 can be a tribute to all those who have served. Preserving Pier 5 will give lasting tribute the extraordinary role the Navy Yard and Pier 5 played in protecting and sustaining our country.

Gerald Angoff

Another Reader Takes Issue With Pier 5 Coverage

To the Editor,

Thank you for publishing our letter to the Editor thanking the community and also for the wonderful coverage of our Pier 5 party on Page 12.

So it is somewhat disheartening to see that there was a disparaging and error-filled article on Page 8 in the same edition regarding Veterans who are against a park on Pier 5.  It was published in the print edition without any byline and appears online as from “Patriot Bridge Staff.” 

People are certainly entitled to their opinion and indeed there are a few varying opinions in the community about what should happen with Pier 5.  They are not widely supported.  The Pier 5 Association has broad support from throughout the community and an online petition with almost 2,100 signatures and a further 600 or so of physical signatures from Charlestown proper.  The comments we receive are virtually unanimous in strong support for a public park on the Charlestown waterfront as we are one of the few neighborhoods in the city without a waterfront facing park.   In fact, many of our supporters were in favor of a particular housing option and when presented with facts and an alternative are now enthusiastic supporters of a public park on the Pier.

The neighborhood vision of the Pier 5 park would acknowledge the rich Naval history of the Pier and honor the sacrifice of all our men and women who fought in the wars and supported the operations at the Charlestown Navy Yard throughout the decades.  Please don’t conflate our desire to have a open public space on the Pier as disrespecting the Veteran’s who so bravely fought on behalf of all our citizens.  We have veterans in our group working with us in support of a park in addition to most of us being spouses or children of veterans.  My father served in World War II on the Troop Transport, the U.S.S. Wakefield and his tour of duty ended some one and a half years after peace was declared until every serviceman was brought home safely from all the far flung locations throughout the South East Asian operating theater.  It is a specific point of pride for me that the Wakefield came to the Navy Yard on two or three occasions during the war to repair damage to the ship from torpedo attacks.

In the article, the name of our organization is incorrect.  We are called the Pier 5 Association.  To my knowledge, there is not a Save Pier 5 group.  The article further goes on to state that we have pooled resources to hire lobbyist Tom O’Neill.  That is factually incorrect.  There is another group that is working to restore Pier 5 who have engaged the services of O’Neill and Associates.  It is presented as a negative, although I would assert that 6M Development has also employed a lobbyist in the hiring of Greg Nolan.

Flagship Wharf residents were singled out, but I would point out that our Pier 5 party on the 26th was a success because of the help and volunteers from not just Flagship Wharf, but Parris Landing, Constellation Wharf, Shipway and many neighbors from Charlestown proper.

It is also erroneous to suggest that we advocate for the demolition and rebuilding of Pier 5 at great cost.  In fact, the opposite is true.  We believe that the existing Pier can be rehabilitated without demolition at a much lower cost and can still support lighter loads allowing for safe pedestrian access.    Our group has and continues to do extensive research on this possibility.  A demolition and rebuild is required for supporting heavier loads, such as for housing that the three proposals have put forth, 6M included.

It should also be noted that demolishing Pier 5 is fraught with environmental risks as there are a host of toxic chemicals and materials from the Pier’s long history of shipbuilding and repair.  These deposits are best left undisturbed.  Demolishing the Pier could present a host of environmental issues that would impact all of the surrounding structures and residents.  Likewise a demolition and rebuild could threaten the structural integrity and stability of the seawall supporting the Harborwalk and surrounding structures including Pier 4, Pier 6 and Constellation Wharf in addition to the public underground garage at Flagship Wharf.

Further, all three proposals threaten the ability of Courageous Sailing to continue to provide programs to the children of Charlestown and all of Boston by encroaching on the watersheet that Courageous needs to safely operate.

I will leave it to others with more knowledge to present the arguments as to why housing, of any type, is not feasible on Pier 5 given the risks that climate issues present.

It is factually incorrect and insulting that our Association instituted the idea of a park as a “ploy” to prevent or delay development on the Pier.  Many of us in the Pier 5 Association have been advocating for a public park for the entire community for the better part of thirty years.  As you can see from the above examples, redevelopment of the Pier has many risks which have factored into our decision that a park is a viable solution for this unique and difficult Pier 5 location.  The article that you published is part and parcel of an ongoing disinformation campaign being waged by representatives of 6M.  If their project is as good as they say it is, they should stand behind it rather than spread lies and disinformation about others.

I believe the original plans that 6M presented in the RFP for Pier 5 had no mention of our Veterans and their need for housing in their original proposal.  It was only after it became clear that 6M was the most deficient of the three proposals that this “ploy” for housing for Veterans was put forth.

There is a growing need, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic, for open space in all communities and it has become a part of most politicians’ social justice platforms.  There is no waterfront access to the harbor for most children throughout Charlestown.  Likewise, the need for affordable housing and housing for our Veterans is also great.  But affordable housing and open space should not be considered a zero sum game.  Our City has the resources to do both and it does not serve anyone’s purpose to pit one group against the other.

I will end this letter going back to my comment that this article was published without attribution which I believe is not a common journalistic practice.  Please provide your readers with the author(s) of the article. They should go on record and stand by their destructive words.  Likewise, I believe it is incumbent upon the Charlestown Patriot Bridge to publish a retraction of the article and to correct the numerous misstatements the article contained.

Kathy Elliott

Pier 5 Coverage Elicits More Critical Feedback

To the Editor,

My father, God rest his soul, who received a Bronze Star and 3 Purple Hearts in action as an infantryman in The Battle of Germany and who then sailed home in a Liberty Ship likely welded at Pier 5 would certainly disagree with the position advocated supposedly on behalf of all veterans by Travis Mills in the “staff article”  in last week’s Patriot Bridge.

The valiant efforts of our WWII soldiers and navy yard workers and all veterans should be honored as is the vision of the Pier 5 Association and further elucidated in the groups multiple blog posts at www.pier5.org.  These describe practical and cost-effective uses of this public space. This pier is a public asset of value to our densely populated neighborhood appreciated by many but currently blocked from access by a chain link fence.

Any future construction or revisions of the pier need careful review as they may threaten the viability of another great public asset the Courageous Sailing Center on  adjacent pier 4.  The location cannot be readily accessed, has a 10 foot tide and is not a “canal setting” for floating housing.  It would be irresponsible to place anyone in harm’s way in this exposed location in an over water residence in an era of climate change and rising sea levels.

The location is ideal for providing public access and educational opportunity around harbor ecology and sustainable shorelines for the entire community and over 3200 of our neighbors who have signed our petition in agreement.

The article in last week’s Patriot-Bridge contained factual errors and does not represent either public opinion or the best interest of our community, but rather the biased perspective of a hopeful developer. .

Chris  Nicodemus

Another Reader Weighs in on Pier 5 Coverage

To the Editor,

Your reporting of community events helps our community enjoy our town,  and be informed.           

Please make a correction regarding Pier 5 so residents are informed with facts. Our hope is the community joins together for a common goal to make Charlestown a better place to live, work and visit for all. 

On August 26th, 2021, the Pier 5 Association Inc hosted a free to all community event at Pier 5 along the Harborwalk, in an effort to enjoy the magnificent experience of a summer night on Boston Harbor, with neighbors and friends of all ages, from all walks of life. Despite the heat index of 105 degrees, in which other community events were cancelled due to the heat, the Charlestown neighborhood came to Pier 5 to celebrate and to have fun with games, The Bubble Man,  face painting, a live band, Keytar the Guitar, painting with Artist of Humanity, while learning about the environment  from  e Inc and Pier 5 Association Inc members.

Pier 5 Association Inc collaborates with Restore Pier 5 who are seeking federal funds for the rehabilitation of Pier 5 into a public park for all to enjoy the Head of the Harbor, and learn about and appreciate our maritime and historical location on the shores where John Winthrop arrived in 1630; Paul Revere rowed to warn the Colonists that “The British are Coming!” and where women and men  labored for our freedom during both World Wars.  Pier 5 Association Inc works collaboratively with Restore Pier 5 and each organization appreciates one another’s support and efforts. The Boston Harbor, the Harborwalk and Pier 5 belong to the people.

Interpretation by a private developer with a proposal to build on Pier 5, with comments which discounts the community effort at Pier 5 is misleading and misinformed.

Pier 5 Association Inc has collected  over 3,000 signatures for a Pier 5 Park to engage the Charlestown community for much needed public recreation and relaxation space; for the City of Boston to celebrate our history in a waterfront park; and for the millions of worldwide travelers who come to see the USS Constitution and Bunker Hill Monument, where they learn about the birth of democracy. Pier 5 Park is by the people, and for the people.

May you please correct the record, for the greater good of the Charlestown community.

Diane Valle

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