By Stephen Quigley
Members of the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) team are going the extra mile to get as much feedback as possible from the Charlestown community for the PLAN:Charlestown initiative.
The process of providing a vision for Charlestown in 2040 was started in 2020 in response to anticipated improvements to Sullivan Square and Rutherford Avenue and an increasing number of development proposals in the underutilized industrial areas.
The PLAN aims to have a framework to shape Charlestown’s future growth along the Rutherford Ave. corridor and in Sullivan Square while preserving the character of existing residential areas and the need to keep the historic areas to remain as they are presently.
In July, the BPDA officially released two draft scenarios for the future of Charlestown, focusing on the industrial area along Rutherford Avenue and Sullivan Square. These draft scenarios are the continuation of a collaborative dialogue to create a framework for the future in this area.
The BPDA plans to hold additional listening sessions and gatherings in order to provide residents an opportunity to present their views and express their concerns about future development.
In a listening session that was held last Thursday, residents aired their views regarding the issues of future development density, the need for added green space, and potential traffic congestion.
Diane Vallée expressed her concerns about the 55-foot height restriction and density. She noted that there are 106 acres to be developed and asked, “How many people will be added to the present population?”
BPDA Community Engagement Manager Jay Ruggiero noted that any project that has just been filed, but not yet approved, would come under the purview of the PLAN: Charlestown.
He also noted that both the Bunker Hill Housing Redevelopment project, as well as the Hood Plant project, are excluded from the PLAN because both projects already have been approved.
With regard to future traffic growth, Ruggiero noted that both of these projects have extensive data on their impact on traffic in the area.
Another resident asked whether the city or the developers will be responsible for managing new green space.
Ruggiero noted that all new green space will be located on private land and therefore will be maintained by the developer.
“However, although the land is private, it will be open to the public,” Ruggiero noted.
The first draft scenarios for parts of Charlestown were recently released and six listening sessions events were held to accompany engagement efforts on the document. Listening session events are opportunities for staff to be available to residents to collect their input on important planning items.
Typically, no formal presentations take place at these types of events and rely on community members to create the dialogue of the event by asking questions and sharing their thoughts.
For those who have been unable to attend a previous listening session and can’t make an upcoming one, but still want to meet with staff to ask questions or discuss feedback, the BPDA will find the time to meet. Jay Ruggiero can be reached at [email protected] to schedule a meeting.
“We need your comments,” Ruggiero added, noting that there is still time to help shape the future of Charlestown.
The deadline to submit comments will be in mid September. So far almost 900 survey responses have been submitted.
Another listening session is scheduled for:
Saturday, August 27 from 10:00 AM–11:00 AM
Register at bit.ly/Aug27meet
Meeting ID: 160 075 3481
Following is the official information sheet being provided by the BPDA to encourage community feedback:
PLAN: Charlestown is excited to share an important milestone and update in the planning process with you. In July, we officially released two draft scenarios for the future of Charlestown, focusing on the industrial area along Rutherford Avenue and Sullivan Square. These draft scenarios are the continuation of a collaborative dialogue to create a framework for the future in this area.
We invite and strongly encourage you to share your feedback on the draft scenarios as part of the ongoing planning initiative.
The scenarios are presented using an ArcGIS StoryMap web page with integrated surveys throughout. Community feedback received over the next two months will guide the production of a single hybrid scenario for further public review. Please help the PLAN: Charlestown team create a plan that reflects your goals and vision for the neighborhood’s future by reviewing and answering the surveys throughout the StoryMap. You can also email members of the team with your feedback, which will be incorporated into the public record.
Please visit bit.ly/PLANCharlestownScenarios, or visit the PLAN: Charlestown website, to see the scenarios and share feedback on what you would like to see in these areas! Please note, the scenarios are best viewed on screens tablet size or larger. One may also request a paper copy of the draft scenarios by email or phone from Jay Ruggiero, BPDA, at [email protected] or (617) 722-4300.
The BPDA will be collecting community feedback on these scenarios in several different places.The best opportunity to give your input will be to engage directly with the material and complete the surveys within the StoryMap. To supplement virtual engagement, you will also see our team attending, participating, and tabling at various neighborhood events, showing up at parks and other community socializings, and hosting a series of virtual listening session events. We invite you to engage with us in any way that is most convenient for you.
In 2040, Charlestown is a thriving, diverse, accessible, and resilient neighborhood where residents can safely and more easily walk, bike, or bus to new parks, plazas, neighborhood amenities, and active waterfront areas. These improvements unite an enhanced historic residential fabric with new homes and jobs which support small businesses, as well as families of all types, sizes, and income levels.