By Michael Coughlin Jr.
Feedback from residents is flying in after late last month’s reveal of the Boston Planning and Development Agency’s (BPDA) hybrid scenario regarding zoning recommendations for the industrial areas of Sullivan Square and along Rutherford Avenue.
The hybrid scenario presented on Thursday, Mar. 30, proposes potential changes for land use, density, transportation, open space, and more for the areas of Sullivan Square and Rutherford Avenue.
This proposal, as presented in March, featured plans such as creating 28 acres of public open space, three free public shuttle routes, and even a commuter rail station at Sullivan Square and more.
Since the scenario reveal, residents have been able to provide feedback through a survey on the BPDA’s website. However, over the last couple of weeks, the BPDA has given residents the opportunity to provide feedback in person through office hours at the Charlestown Public Library.
“The office hours have been immensely helpful for staff to collect feedback. Residents have been able to stop by, ask questions, and really dig into any concerns and talk about their hopes for the neighborhood with BPDA planning staff,” said a BPDA spokesperson.
One of the more talked about aspects of the proposed scenario and an aspect the BPDA has acknowledged they have heard a lot of feedback about is maximum building height.
In the March presentation, a slide detailed that the building height for new development closest to the highway – west of Rutherford Avenue – could range as tall as 350 feet and 19 stories before decreasing as you moved closer to Rutherford Avenue.
Erin Woods attended the BPDA’s office hour on Friday, Apr. 14, and while she was fond of the open space aspects of the proposal, she shared her concerns regarding building height, saying, “I just think it’s too high, too dense, and I think it needs to come down.”
“They said they’re going to be coming down on the height, so I hope that’s real.”
Another attendee at last Friday’s office hour, Ellen Kitzis, described the BPDA’s plans as a “work in progress” and mentioned that the speed of the plan and online meetings had not helped the process.
However, she did say, “I think they’re [the BPDA] trying to be responsive to what the community wants. I think they’re under dual pressures from the community and from public pronouncements as to what they want the City of Boston to look like and what it wants to support.”
“I don’t challenge their [the BPDA] intentions – I think their intentions are good,” said Kitzis.
Two other attendees – Anna DeMare and David Seuss – voiced their support for the plans. “It looks good, and it looks like they’re [the BPDA] being very thoughtful about preserving the history of Charlestown,” said DeMare.
“The big plan seems like a positive step forward. I mean, the project’s area needs to be rehabilitated, and almost any plans better than the current situation there,” said Seuss.
Along with the feedback and comments featured above, the BPDA has indicated they have gotten a majority of feedback on the maximum height for future development, questions about transportation impacts, support for aspects like the open space and transportation aspects of the scenario, and comments about new housing.
While the scheduled office hours have come and gone, the BPDA is providing several opportunities for residents to give feedback.
These opportunities include a presentation at the Charlestown Neighborhood Council (CNC) on Wednesday, Apr. 26, as well as future meetings with other groups, such as the Charlestown Mothers Association (CMA), the Sullivan Square Residents Association, and CharlesNewtown.
The BPDA is also hosting a Walking Tour on Saturday, Apr. 29, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. that begins at the Community College T stop for residents to learn more about the neighborhood and potential scenarios for the area.
Finally, the BPDA is also planning to have coffee hours at Mishawum and do some tabling around the neighborhood.
“If residents have an idea of where we should be, or want to invite us to present and hear feedback from your community group, please reach out to Jason Ruggiero at [email protected],” said a BPDA spokesperson.
The same BPDA spokesperson also encouraged residents to get involved if they have questions or feedback about the scenario. The feedback will be used to make updated plans slated to be revealed this summer.
To learn more about this scenario, PLAN: Charlestown as a whole, and to fill out a feedback survey, you can visit https://www.bostonplans.org/planning/planning-initiatives/plan-charlestown.