By Ann Kelleher
Many in Charlestown have been attending meetings regarding a proposed new development, One Charlestown. This is an exciting mixed-income development that will benefit not only the present residents but future tenants as well. The bottom line is that all of the community in Charlestown is in favor of providing, better, safer and updated living arrangements for the current residents.
As I have been studying the proposal and listening to other thoughts and opinions, for and against this large development, I took a step back and thought about why we choose to live in this community. Charlestown, being one square mile is often referred to as a “village.” It is a community that embraces diversity and respect for each other. People here in Charlestown don’t look the other way when there is a need but reach out and get involved in many arenas.
Living in a “village” can mean different things to each one of us. For me, I think that the quality of life this community offers is important to our physical, mental and emotional health.
An interesting definition in Collier’s English Dictionary defines “quality of life as the general well-being of a person or society, defined in terms of health and happiness rather than wealth.” Of course that makes sense as we all have heard the expression, “health is wealth.”
However, as I was thinking about Charlestown being one square mile with a population of 17,000 residents, the One Charlestown proposal would add 6000 plus residents. This would increase the population of Charlestown by 25-30 %.
As we look around we see other large projects either just having been built, in the process of being built or proposed for the near future to be built. There could be an increase of over 500 units to be built resulting in perhaps an additional 1000 residents. This is based on 2.3 people in one unit of housing according recent Boston demographics. In addition, there is a proposed hotel in the Navy Yard with a capacity of 230 rooms.
The average density per square mile in Boston is 13,841 residents. With the many new projects in Charlestown, the density of Charlestown could increase to close to 23,000 residents plus.
As the perimeter of Charlestown is surrounded by major roadways, leading in and out of Boston, we who live here have difficulty entering and exiting as there are only 3 main roads we can access. This results in our community experiencing pollution caused by idling and moving traffic. This pollution contributes to poor air quality. The polluted air we breathe can result in cardiac, respiratory, cancers, other debilitating diseases and even dementia according to recent studies concerning our health. Our “quality” of life is compromised.
As we learn more about what is being built in Charlestown, we must be vigilant, attentive and involved in our village.
Put in perspective, the Bunker Hill Monument is 221 feet tall. One Charlestown proposes 10 six story buildings and one 21 story building which would be about 210 feet tall. Do we really want to see such high structures in our historical neighborhood?
It is our responsibility to improve the quality of life for ourselves and others.
Jane Jacobs, the author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, provides an excellent blueprint of information regarding what makes a vibrant community. She accomplished this by being involved in many projects that were against what was best for the neighborhood. She stood up to City Hall, educated the residents and brought many ideas which resulted in successful and thriving neighborhoods around the country. Her ideas are more relevant today than ever. Her mantra is” neighborhood preservation”. Isn’t that what we are looking for in our community of Charlestown?
Please learn more about the One Charlestown proposal and voice your approval or concerns when the final proposal is presented.
Ann Kelleher is a resident of Charlestown.