Letter to the Editor

Pier 5 Association Encourages Community Engagement for a Charlestown Navy Yard Public, Waterfront Park

To the Editor,

Pier 5 Association, Courageous Sailing Center, and an active community of Charlestown residents attended the BPDA ZOOM presenting FOTH Engineering Report on the current condition of Pier 5.  The majority of community comments and in the chat favor a public, open, green, public waterfront park, with public access to the Boston Harbor.

We have high expectations for an iconic, creative, critically needed climate resilient, public, waterfront park, with an engaged public process, for the best possible outcome for all to enjoy now and for decades to come. We are confident something wonderful is possible. We envision a design competition defined by community needs, wants and great ideas.

Please send comments to [email protected], by February 4 deadline. We need your voices and your ideas.

Background: Pier 5 Association paid for DeSimone Engineering to determine what is possible on blighted Pier 5, a 650’ long and 125’ wide pier, built within one year of Pier 7/ Constellation Wharf. Pier 5’s 1650 piles includes a main rail spine for a WWII crane to hoist steel ship parts for repairs. For pedestrian use, 100 pounds/ sq ft is required instead of thousands of pounds sq ft for steel ship parts. New piling technology allows the reduced number of piles to be wrapped and reinforced, reducing the cost and environmental risks.

Pier 5 is protected by Commonwealth of Massachusetts’s Chapter 91’s water based use:

The Commonwealth’s primary tool for protection and promotion of public use of its tidelands and other waterways is Massachusetts General Law Chapter 91, the waterways licensing program. The Commonwealth formally established the program in 1866, but the philosophy behind Chapter 91 dates back to the earliest days of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, most notably in the Colonial Ordinances of 1641-1647.

The Colonial Ordinances codified the “public trust doctrine,” a legal principle that dates back nearly 2000 years, which holds that the air, the sea and the shore belong not to any one person, but rather to the public at large.

The oldest program of its kind in the nation, Chapter 91 regulates activities on both coastal and inland waterways, including construction, dredging and filling in tidelands, great ponds and certain rivers and streams.

Through Chapter 91, the Commonwealth seeks to preserve and protect the rights of the public, and to guarantee that private uses of tidelands and waterways serve a proper public purpose.

The majority community comments embraced preservation of the Head of the Harbor view corridor of the City skyline and outer harbor. Educational and environmental floating pods are favored.  The use of native plantings and oyster upwellers protect and preserve Boston Harbor. A public, floating swimming pool has some advocates and some concerns on whether Pier 5 is the right location. (Between Harborview and Spaulding Rehab Hospital there is a open inlet, away from the wave and boat traffic which we hope to explore for feasibility.)

Courageous Sailing Center is located on a newly rebuilt Pier 4, and seeks additional dockage which seems feasible on the south side of Pier 5. Pier 5 Association and CSC are collaborating to enhance both Pier 5 and the CSC program needs to serve their treasured program for Boston residents.

The National Park Service of Boston, with our national treasure of “Old Ironsides”/ the USS Constitution; the USS Cassin Young, a steel destroyer named for Medal of Honor recipient Cassin Young for his heroism during WWII; along with the Constitution Museum; The Boston Harborwalk; the landing site of Paul Revere on the night of his famous ride; and the Boston Freedom Trail all will benefit from a public waterfront Pier 5 Park to enrich the experience of our historic waterfront. Tourist revenue benefits all Bostonians. Our shared story of the birth of American Democracy benefits Americans and visitors from around the globe.

Charlestown will host the 250th Anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill in 2025; the Tall Ships in 2026, and the 400th Anniversary of the founding of Charlestown in 2030, Boston’s earliest settlement. We envision an exciting Pier 5 Park for residents, workers, and visitors from near and far to marvel and enjoy.

We hope our community becomes actively involved in this once of a lifetime opportunity to create a beautiful waterfront amenity in our historic neighborhood.  East Boston has a vibrant, community based, recreational and passive use waterfront, as do many coastal cities like Brooklyn, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC.

It is our time for good stewardship, to add to the greatness of this town of so many “firsts” in the Nation, and the first battle for independence and self governance, from land and by sea.

Please be part of history, help Pier 5 Park become a future gem in historic Charlestown. See www.pier5.org for more information.

Together, as a community,

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