Councilor Edwards Tells Chamber of Waterfront Business District Idea

The Charlestown Chamber of Commerce held a blockbuster luncheon on Monday, and keynote speaker Councilor Lydia Edwards introduced to the crowd a new idea she’s exploring centered around protecting the waterfront through a public-private partnership.

Edwards said one of the key issues to protecting the waterfront might be instituting a Waterfront Business District similar to what is now happening on the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Downtown Boston.

“Private industry has a place in this conversation about the waterfront,” she said. “I don’t want private industry to run away. Private industry and government both have an interest…We need to unite and be pals in this movement.”

The idea would be to call on businesses investing and developing on the waterfront in places like Charlestown to give a percentage to supplement the upkeep of open spaces, public art projects, and for Charlestown, the proposed inter-neighborhood ferry service. It would not be for routine maintenance and infrastructure, she said.

She said there is a movement among some in District 1 to stop all development on the waterfront until there is a full resiliency plan implemented. Edwards said maybe implementing the lessons from the Greenway into a Waterfront Business District concept could promote responsible development and bring in small business as well.

“This is not for infrastructure or maintenance, to be clear,” she said. “It’s for open space and public art, and to subsidize things like the ferry for all. We need a waterfront for everyone…I’m thinking that District 1 has the most coastline and waterfront. That means we get more benefits and burdens of that. We should be putting together a large group of as many stakeholders as possible. One idea in that is taking this business district concept to the waterfront.”

Edwards spoke to the Chamber for about 20 minutes, unveiling her new idea about the Business District and also answering questions on topics from traffic to One Charlestown.

Chamber member Rebecca Kaiser said it was one of the larger turnouts they’ve had for the speaker series, and they were grateful to Madera 83 owner Samad Naamad for hosting.

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