At their Jan. 8 meeting, The Charlestown Neighborhood Council (CNC) had a special presentation from the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) regarding the Charlestown Lower Mystic Project. MyRWA Greenways Director Amber Christoffersen and TerraCorps Member Zoe Davis told the CNC that they are looking to make open space waterfront and mobility improvements on the Mystic River side of Charlestown that connects to Rutherford Avenue and the Washington Street bridge.
Christoffersen provided a brief timeline of ideas/events that have connected people to the waterfront. In 2013, there was an idea of using the abandoned MassPort rail as a linear park and community connector. In 2014, Assembly Row allowed for Somerville to open up to the Mystic River for the first time, Christoffersen said. And 2017’s Go Boston 2030 initiative has ideas for how to manage floodwater and waterfront open space.
MyRWA held an Open House kickoff event at the Schrafft’s Center and Docks in June to provide information from Climate Ready Boston, as well as ask Charlestown residents what kinds of things they were looking for when it comes to waterfront access and improvements, according to Christoffersen. There is also an online survey people can fill out to provide input about what they’d like to see.
“The biggest thing that I want to bring up with cautious optimism,” Christoffersen said, is that 40 year lease to MassPort on the BPDA parcel on the Little Mystic Channel is ending this July. She said that the city is negotiating with MassPort about what’s going to happen with the parcel, and MyRWA is advocating for a waterfront path and park system around the Little Mystic Channel. She said they are also looking to have the city “really negotiate with MassPort what’s happening with the rail.”
Christoffersen added that as the city raises Main Street as part of the Rutherford Avenue project and Climate Ready Boston to protect inland properties from flooding, it makes the rail an “even tougher thing to envision coming back.”
CNC Chairman Tom Cunha said he was concerned about the amount of traffic that the Encore Boston Harbor casino in Everett is going to generate. “We’re an island,” Cunha said. “The only way you can get into and out of Charlestown is by a bridge. He said the waterway should be utilized as much as possible to service the casino to get people off the streets of Charlestown.
Another concern from the CNC was about space for kids’ sports fields. There is worry that with the new housing developments coming that more kids will come here and have to be turned away from sports because there is not enough space for them to participate.
“It’s about trying to get more open space,” Cunha said.
“We’re interested in hearing what really are the issues from the people who are most affected,” Christoffersen said.
There will be a community meeting on Jan. 30 from 6:30-8 p.m. in the Harvard-Kent cafeteria regarding the Charlestown Lower Mystic Project. MyRWA will share feedback and initial ideas for new parks, walking/biking paths, and opportunities for better access to the waterfront. Free pizza will be served.
Medford—Bunker Hill Connector Streets
Also discussed at the CNC meeting was the Medford-Bunker Hill connector streets committee that is being formed by Tom Cunha. Cunha said that at last month’s meeting, someone from BTD came and spoke to the community about working with them towards potentially changing the direction of certain streets.
Cunha appointed a committee consisting of people living on the streets affected and others, who are going to meet next Monday night to start the process. They will come up with some ideas and suggestions, and eventually send a proposal to the city. The city will then send out communication to people on the streets asking them if they want the streets to be changed. Statistics will then be compiled and given to community leaders with options from the number of people and the specific input they raised.
“I do not want to do all their work for them,” Cunha said, speaking about the city. “We will be public, we will be transparent, we will let people know in the community that there will be a process for Medford Street to Bunker Hill Street Cunha said that he “does not want to open” Eden Street or School Street as part of this process.
“My understanding is once there’s an agreement between the city and the residents, there’s at least six to eight months change because people have to be notified, emergency people have to be notified,” and curb cuts have to be made, Cunha said. “We need to let the community know that we understand what their concerns and issues are; that’s what we’re about.”