The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) has requested a 90-day extension on its lease of the Little Mystic Channel property with MassPort in order to make additional time to speak with the community and negotiate new lease terms.
The matter will be officially proposed at the BPDA’s Board meeting tonight, May 16, and is expected to be approved.
“Because Massport has conveyed to the BPDA the importance of the Little Mystic Parcel for the continuing operations of the Autoport, staff is seeking a three-month extension to the existing lease with all of the same terms as are presently in effect,” read the official request sent to the BPDA Board. “This extension will allow staff to confirm that a longer term lease renewal is appropriate for the property, analyze feedback from the community, elected officials and non-profits regarding possible mitigation measures that BPDA will require of Massport or any other industrial Lessee of the Little Mystic Parcel; and provide the time necessary to negotiate the terms of a new, longer term lease for the Little Mystic Parcel – including determining an appropriate rent for the property based on an independent appraisal of value which has been recently completed for the property.”
Councilor Lydia Edwards said she feels like the extension is good news, particularly if the BPDA does intend to use the time to work with the community.
“I don’t want a 30-year renewal,” she said. “I don’t really want to talk about extending the Little Mystic until we have an understanding of all the mitigation we can get…I hope it is to allow for time to talk and that they haven’t already made up their minds…This is an opportunity to show they really care and are a partner in Charlestown…Equal footing is what they have done in East Boston. I’d love to see them do that in Charlestown.”
BPDA staff did recommend that the extension be granted, with the lease expiring in July. The lease with MassPort, and its sub-lease with the Diversified AutoPort, has been the subject of strong community discussion over the past six months, with many in the Town preferring that the land come out of the industrial port and be used for recreational space.
Others, however, such as State Rep. Dan Ryan believe that removing the land from the industrial zone, known as the Designated Port Area (DPA), is probably an impossibility given the hoops that have to be jumped through to make that happen.
He said it is time to talk about reality when it comes to the Little Mystic.
“A public battle over the future designation of this parcel, if there are no intentions of changing the use, is divisive and irresponsible,” he wrote in a comment letter this week. “I support the continued use of the Little Mystic as a DPA property. I do not have to love it to understand its regional importance. I also do not want to see my community used as a pawn between quasi-government agencies in a contract negotiation. However, I do see the potential renewal of this lease as an opportunity to revisit the BPDA’s and MassPort’s mission and commitment to the waterfront in Charlestown.”
He said he would like to see the current energy around the DPA and Little Mystic to be focused on attainable goals. He suggested that MassPort and the BPDA make significant contributions to open space, which seems to be what people are clamoring for at the Little Mystic.
He said an investment in The Oilies (Barry Playground) on Medford Street could make sense, particularly if it had turf installed.
“An investment by the parties to the Little Mystic could be made to make this park usable year-round,” he wrote. “Even if just the outfield was turned into synthetic turf, it would open thousands of square feet of year-round practice and game space.”
There hasn’t been another public meeting scheduled for the Little Mystic, but more are expected.