Letters to the Editor

Countless Contributions Made by Boston’s Black leaders

To the Editor,

As we celebrate Black History Month, I am reminded of the countless contributions made by Boston’s Black leaders in our city, from business, arts, community service, sports, humanitarian efforts, religious and political icons.  So many great men and women! Heroes and Patriots!  I am particularly fascinated by Phillis (Phyllis) Wheatley, the first African American author of a published book of poetry.

Also, Boston’s most underrated historical tour – The Black Heritage Trail to be a gem for the city of Boston. Our Abolition Movement, education, and equal rights. I strongly recommend taking this tour. https://www.nps.gov/thingstodo/explore-the-black-heritage-trail.htm.

David Manzi

I Continue to Oppose this Project

To the Editor,

As a member of the IAG for One Mystic, I have reviewed the DPIR submitted by the project proponent, Fulcrum Global Investors. While the developer has made modifications to their plan since the PNF, these changes are not sufficiently responsive to the concerns raised by the community, City agencies and other stakeholders.  I continue to oppose this project as currently proposed. Thank you for the opportunity to provide my comments and concerns. 

1. Alternatives Analysis:  It was disappointing to see the developer’s response to the BPDA’s directive to provide an analysis of alternative uses consistent with zoning and context.  With their analysis solely focused on vehicle trips for a 5-story office building they thumb their nose at the BPDA and the community.   The developer insists that housing is the City’s primary development goal.  But I would counter that the need to protect the dwindling industrial base is equally imperative.  There are real, viable alternatives, such as modern urban industrial uses that include recreation, light manufacturing, etc. that would be more suitable, and consistent with the light industrial zoning for the site.  The developer needs to truly and fully evaluate alternatives.

2. Height and Massing:  While the project area has been expanded to reduce FAR, and height has been slightly lowered, the project remains too tall and massive for the site. Allowing this scale in this location for a project with questionable merit, would set a precedent the community has yet to say they want for this emerging new neighborhood through the Plan: Charlestown process.

3. Location, Location, Location:  The T, an adjacent neighbor, is in its own master planning process for its 36.5 acres surrounding the project site.  Though the plan is still in draft form, it is clear that the T sees this site as critical to its long term mission.  The implications for neighboring One Mystic are not good.  With the T as a forever neighbor, the developer is mistaken to say that their project will “become knitted together” with the existing community as Sullivan Square is redeveloped.  The T’s primary need is for low-rise facilities with first floor access, with modest additional height for some administrative and engineering functions.  Given the T’s land extends from Dorrance Street to Alford Street, its train tracks on another side, and I-93 on yet another, One Mystic, if built, will always be a very tall island unto itself.  

4. Open Space On Site:  Moving the open space to face Dorrance Street might mean more sunlight, but the developer has not fully taken into consideration the impact of the T’s projected increase in vehicular traffic.  Good that the interior residential spaces will be protected with window glazing and framing techniques for noise reduction.  But consider sitting on the ground floor plaza, inhaling fumes for at least a decade waiting for the T’s bus fleet to be electrified.

5. Open Space Off Site:  The developer proposes to create and maintain landscaped spaces on 2 small parcels across from Dorrance Street in the middle of Mystic Ave. as part of their community benefits package. There are a couple of unacknowledged problems with their plan. First, they don’t have site control.  These are parcels that will be created with the Sullivan Square/Rutherford Ave. reconstruction project.  How and by whom they get developed is far from determined and won’t be any time soon. Second, as part of its draft master plan, the T is proposing extending Dorrance Street to Sullivan Station which would cross and chop up these parcels.  Any plan to utilize these parcels is wishful thinking and shouldn’t be considered part of One Mystic’s proposal.  

6. Affordable Housing and Fair Housing:  Our community has long advocated for more affordable housing, especially for Charlestown residents.  But the City’s Affirmative Fair Housing Marketing Plan as well as the new Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing amendment to the zoning code mean that although we might wish it were possible, these affordable units cannot be targeted to local residents.  In fact, the developer is required to demonstrate to the City’s Fair Housing Commission and the BPDA how they will pro-actively market to those least likely to choose this neighborhood.  So it is disconcerting to hear the development team describe the special efforts that will be made to try to keep the IDP units for locals. While their plan may seem well-intentioned, it is deliberately misleading the community in exchange for its support.  

7. Community Benefits:  To discuss community benefits at this point in the process feels premature.  But having said that, the developer’s initial offerings are of little benefit to the greater community given the scope of their ask.  Most items on the current list are not benefits, but requirements or self-serving project benefits such as traffic management and open space.  And the proposed scholarships and grants and shuttles just perpetuate the notion that tokens to individuals, organizations and groups is how one does business in Charlestown. A goal of Plan: Charlestown is to produce a comprehensive list of community benefits that all developers will be asked to deliver, as appropriate.  In the meantime, we must demand more from any developer expecting so much in return.

Joanne Massaro 

Activation of Shipyard Park Better Together

To the Editor,

I always thought that the BPDA selection of The Anchor run by the Anthem Group to activate Shipyard Park was a good idea.  Attending early public listening sessions and a planning charette that was part of the process to inform the Charlestown Navy Yard Waterfront Activation Network Plan published in 2007, the issue always has been, how to activate the Navy Yard, a historic landmark on the National Register of Historic Places, to bring together residents of Charlestown, residents of the City of Boston and the hundreds of thousands of visitors that visit the National Park every year. Impediments to activation were always, the historic masonry and metal fence line bordering the Navy Yard, Chelsea Street, the Tobin Bridge, lack of services, activities, destinations and common life experiences.

The BPDA selection of The Anchor with its focus on activating Shipyard Park through a well-run food, beverage and community programming for all ages and cultures, is wholly consistent with the Charlestown Navy Yard Activation Network Plan  and Chapter 91, The Massachusetts Public Waterfront Act based upon the legal principle “which holds that the air, the sea, and the shore belong not to any one person, but rather to the public at large”.  The physical and cultural barriers to the Navy Yard demand the kind of activation that The Anchors brings to Shipyard Park.

On a virtual public hearing listening session hosted by the BPDA, there was one speaker, who lives in an immediately adjacent residential building, whose issue stood out. She was complaining about a low base frequency sound that was bothering her. When I mentioned this issue to the manager of The Anchor the following day and told her that while she could be compliant with a decibel reading but the frequency of a low base sound affects people differently, she got it. She mentioned that they could lower the base and move the speakers to a different location during the times they are playing music.

Due to the demonstrated ability to provide a much-needed destination venue in the Navy Yard, provide a well-managed food and beverage facility, to grow the business and services to the public during the pandemic, reinvest in the physical plant to add value to their service to the public, and provide community programming for all ages and cultures, I recommend the BPDA award or renew The Anchor’s contract to activate Shipyard Park.

Doug Pope

Parris Landing

Charlestown Navy Yard

Stay or Go

To the Editor,

What will go into the Charlestown Navy Yard where The Anchor is today?    For millennia people have debated what community gathering spots should look like.  Which came first a beer-garden or temple (Gobekli Tepe, Turkey 9000 BCE)?  How much merry making is appropriate at Christmas (Christmas banned in Massachusetts, 1659)?

Now its our turn to debate if The Anchor should stay or go.  Good neighbors can agree to disagree on lights, sounds levels, and number of pumpkins at a Halloween display.   Nobody wants to lose sleep because of a loud party next door.  I hope management and neighbors can work things out so The Anchor stays and would like to acknowledge the business for-

1) Staying open against the odds as a safe place for Charlestown folks to enjoy a pint outdoors;

2) Providing a venue for parishioners young and old from a local church to enjoy fellowship;

3) Employing local Charlestown youth without them needing to ride the T;

4) Broader civic engagement including with Boston’s Project Citizenship, a non-profit which assists legal immigrants with complex USCIS requirements.

Surely relevant parties can sit down and resolve the concerns raised in January 27th’s letter to the Editor (Charlestown Patriot-Bridge).

Simon Ringrose

Flatley Invites the Public to an Open House February 8

To the Editor,

The Flatley Company invites the public to attend an Open House to learn more about the proposed redevelopment of the former Domino Sugar Factory site at 425 Medford Street.  The Open House will be held from 4:00-8:00 PM on February 8, at 425 Medford Street in Charlestown and will cover a range of topics including, resiliency, urban and landscape design and uses, and community benefits. Food and beverage options will also be provided.

The Flatley company is excited to engage with the community and share details about this groundbreaking project. In their redevelopment designs, Flatley has prioritized climate resiliency measures that will not only protect the Flatley land but, more importantly, hundreds of acres across Charlestown, Somerville, and Cambridge.

Given the increasing COVID cases in the area, The Flatley Company is taking every safety precaution. In accordance with the City’s COVID mandates, proof of vaccination will be required to enter, and guests are requested to wear masks.

To Register: bit.ly/425Medford

The Flatley Company

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