By Seth Daniel
It took research and it took not giving up, but residents of Flagship Wharf are raising their flag in victory this week after Mayor Martin Walsh announced that the commuter ferry will be moved back to Pier 4 after a nine-year absence.
Walsh made the announcement on Thursday night, March 10, at the Friends of the Navy Yard Winter Warmer celebration, and it resulted in applause from all quarters. The issue had been the focal point of the new neighborhood group called the Navy Yard 197 Committee that is made up of residents of Flagship Wharf. For the past two years, they have been lobbying the mayor, Councilor Sal LaMattina, the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) and others for the change – and that issue was the precursor for their formation.
“That was a move that enthused many, many, many residents,” said Christine Colley of the Committee. “Our chief concern at the time we formed about one and a half years ago was to work very hard to get this shuttle moved back from Pier 3 to Pier 4…It shows what a dedicated, knowledgeable group of people can accomplish. We are thrilled we’ve had the opportunity to work with Sal LaMattina, Brian Golden at the BRA and his waterfront planner Rich McGuinness.”
Nearly nine years ago under the late Mayor Tom Menino’s administration, the BRA moved the water shuttle from Pier 4 next to Flagship Wharf over to Pier 3, which is the non-residential side by the back of the Constitution Museum. The move was in order to use money received from the state to make pier improvements. However, there was never any effort to move the shuttle back, and residents have been asking for it every since. As a bone to the residents, the BRA had proposed building a bridge over the drydock, but that never ended up happening.
Through working with the Office of Neighborhood Services, LaMattina the mayor and the BRA, an effort was made to get it moved back.
“Basically, the Navy Yard doesn’t have any public transportation,” said Nitzan Sneh. “Our only public transportation is the water transportation shuttle and it goes from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The come comes only every so often and is very unreliable. Nobody takes that. During rush hour, the North Washington Street Bridge traffic can block Navy Yard. It can easily take 45 minute to get to North Station and rush hour. With a ferry, it’s 10 minutes. That’s why it’s so important for us. With it being one pier down, people had to go around Drydock 2 and fully exposed to the weather. There was no shelter there either. It had a really negative effect on people going from here to the city.”
Sherry Grancey of the Committee said they hope this victory propels some of their next items, which include water activities planning for Drydock 2, better maintenance of Shipyard Park, removing the fence at Pier 5 and increasing water access routes.
“We hope this change will increase ridership for the MBTA and we’re looking forward to having a lot more bodies on the boat,” she said.
A vote of the BRA Board was expected today, March 17, and the move was expected to be complete no later than the beginning of the summer.