Letters to the Editor

THANK YOU

Dear Editor:

The Friends of the Training Field would like to thank the people who made Halloween at the Training Field a great success.  The MacDonalds, who always go out of their way for the community: Doug, Jason, Kim, Nora, Jessie and Judy. Thanks to Tom Coots, Janet Sullivan – for great hot chocolate, and Army National Guard Members – Katrina Habib, Richard Watson, and Jamie Chambers.

We also want to thank the members of the Charlestown High School Band: Tahari Barbosa, Jinye Yi, Yamilet Santana, Jayden Aguilar, Jared Parks, Stephanie Pereyra, Randy Lara, Kevin Le, Jamani Osario, and Emmanual Ademodi. It was really a treat to be able to include them.

Thanks to BPD A1 Community Service Officer Kerri Guerin and also to the Charlestown Mothers Association.

Our sincere thanks to everyone for making it a great time!

Bill Kelly

President, Friends of the Training Field

It Takes A Village…To Save a Village

Dear Editor:

Since 2014, when the Wynn Casino Development Project was made public, it became apparent that the impact on the surrounding communities would be significant. By studying, learning and researching the various issues such as increased traffic in our environment, I am now aware that we are facing negative consequences regarding our health.

This concerns me a great deal. As a nurse, I pay attention to the health of the Boston community, and especially, that of my family, neighbors and myself.

It would be negligent of me to ignore and disregard the new data that supports the overwhelming evidence that we are experiencing a higher mortality risk from particulate matter in the air from vehicle exhaust.

Before us now, the Hood Park Project/Proposal is on the verge of requesting the present zoning of 75 feet and 115 feet to accommodate a cluster of buildings as high as 275 feet.

Why should you be concerned?

The population of Charlestown is increasing with the many new projects. Traffic is increasing as we contend with daily gridlock. And lastly, the environment’s poor air quality contributes to an increase in documented health-related illnesses.

Just the facts: More population, more cars, more poor health

Population Explosion:

How is our population increasing? Charlestown currently exceeds the average density per square mile in Boston, which is about 14,000 residents. The 2016 census showed Charlestown having 17,000 residents in one square mile. Charlestown residents occupy one-third of our one square mile, while the other two thirds are comprised of commercial and industrial uses. According to Boston statistics, for every unit built 2.3 people will be added to the census. A cursory tabulation of recent, current development and future development projects could potentially swell the population to 25-35 percent larger, with no solutions for the critical safety, health and transportation issues.

The Boston Planning and Development Agency has as many as seven additional parcels located around Sullivan Square that could eventually be sold to developers. Another area to be considered is the land that the Bunker Hill Community College parking lot is located, which is developable. A spine of large buildings from North Station to Sullivan Square will block off Charlestown and strangle us.

Precedence: Allowing a building/tower at Hood Park at 275 feet sets a precedent for future towers in our community.

More vehicle trips: Why is traffic increasing? Currently 100,000 vehicle trips are made through Sullivan Square daily. When the casino opens in 2019, another 1,000 vehicle trips per hour are expected to drive through our area entering and exiting the casino grounds. All the new buildings surrounding the Charlestown community, such as Somerville, Cambridge and Boston results in added traffic congestion.

Trapped: We in Charlestown have only three ways to enter and exit. We are trapped in our own community.

And, We are choked now.

Poor Air Quality: What is the impact of increased traffic on our health?  The environment is suffering with poor air quality and is affecting our health in ways that never before have been documented. We are all aware that poor air quality causes increased cancer, asthma, autoimmune and other illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease. The very latest research data has added strokes and heart attacks as being directly caused by particulate matter from car exhausts.

Our children are highly sensitive to the adverse effects of air pollution because their lungs and immune systems are not fully developed. Also, more recent studies confirm the correlation between air pollution and maternal exposure during pregnancy is associated with adverse birth outcomes.

This, to me is alarming. No doubt, we all do what is necessary to stay healthy. Unfortunately, the polluted air we breathe is inescapable. The healthcare costs are mounting. The lost days at school and work are real losses in productivity.

What are we to do? We all need to pay attention to what is happening around us before we get swallowed up in a mass of buildings.

We need to think about our ”quality of life” as defined by Collier’s English Dictionary, “a general well-being of a person or society, defined in terms of health rather than wealth.”

To promote better health is a gift we give ourselves as well as others, now, and for future generations. It is cost-effective for the future of our City, our town and generations of residents.

If we looked around at our environment and took stock of what is happening, and by working together, we could have a huge impact on where we are headed in terms of enjoying a happy and healthy existence and leave our village, our town of Charlestown, in better shape for the next generation.

Ann Kelleher

 

DEVELOPMENT AT WHAT COST?

Dear Editor:

There is a vision for a 2030 Charlestown clearly outlined by the Mayor, the Department of Planning and Development, and the project managers of Hood Business Park, One Charlestown and Encore Casino. Emphasis is placed on increased usage of public transportation, Zipcar/bicycle stations, and pedestrian-friendly walkways with the goal of decreasing vehicular volume. Our major thoroughfares will become “urban boulevards,” and the plethora of newly installed traffic signals will enhance traffic flow and decrease idling time and auto emissions. Construction of these projects will feature smaller buildings (three-four stories) along the main roads (Rutherford Avenue, Bunker Hill Street and Medford Street) with larger structures (10-12 stories) situated in the middle of the developments to minimally affect the skyline within the community. I have seen enough of these “snake oil” presentations. We are talking about a nearly 25 percent increase in population with no coherent infrastructure to accommodate this density. One Charlestown is providing 0.6 of a parking space per unit, and the Hood Park project managers are already considering decreasing the amount of available parking at their site. The traffic signals are multiplying like rabbits and exacerbating an already unbearable commute in any direction. The day-long logjam of vehicles is getting pushed further down Medford and Main Streets and up Bunker Hill Street while engineers and designers give too much credence to traffic formula software. Extenuating circumstances (e.g. the re-repairing of the Alford Street Bridge; tractor trailers overturning on the Sullivan Square rotary; severe rainstorms flooding and damaging the roadways) are given minimal consideration. Maybe by 2030 we can strap on our drone-packs and soar to our destinations with little fanfare.

I understand the need for increased city revenues, but at what cost. Charlestown used to be a working-class community where fire fighters, postal workers, union tradesmen, city/state employees and teachers could raise families in faith-filled homes; and obtaining a college degree and purchasing a home was a realistic “dream.” This Charlestown no longer exists as the ever-shrinking middle-class struggles to make ends meet. Our children bear the burden of the housing costs associated with the “Charlestown 2030” vision and college graduates often carry tuition debt that render home ownership here a “pipe” dream. As the “have and have-nots” gap widens, what of our senior citizens, handicapped and special-needs neighbors. They are an afterthought when new development proposals are brought forward and things that are taken for granted (such as postal services or affordable groceries) continue to fall by the wayside.

Although I can’t help feeling like a bug that’s about to be squashed with the advent of the new construction, I still love Charlestown. A multitude of “Townie” benevolent organizations continue to be the lifeblood for so many of our citizenry and annual events such as Halloween at the Monument and the Bunker Hill Day parade are a source of great pride. Also, watching kids participate in the many youth athletic programs, being active in churches and ministries, and getting to know neighbors are part of the wonderful experiences my wife and seven children continue to relish. There truly is no place like Charlestown because it’s the people, not the buildings, that make it special.

Kevin Kelly

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