Letters to the Editor

Thank You Scholarship Committee

To the Editor,

I  would like to be express my sincere appreciation to the Abraham Lincoln Post #11 scholarship committee for being selected as the recipient of the first William “Billy” Boyle scholarship. This scholarship will assist me as I continue my education at Worcester State University. I appreciate this scholarship very much. 

Thank you, 

Brendan Boyle

Reimagine Pier 5– Greenspace and a Climate Buffer

To the Editor,

As the community of Charlestown is surrounded by a coastal shoreline, coastal resiliency takes on a new urgency, which will require a total shift in thought.

The Boston Planning and Development Agency in their esteemed wisdom have enthusiastically embraced three proposals, all with residential housing for Pier 5. The gambit of “residences” run from 55 boat slips [houseboats] to 133 units of housing.

Has the BPDA given any serious thought to the inevitable flooding that could take place? How can buildings on Pier 5 protect the rest of the community from the ocean waters?

The next chapter of public space along the shoreline, should be green infrastructure, not buildings or boats made of brick, cement, wood, or plastic.

The New York shoreline, peppered with existing piers are being reworked with vegetation, storm water management, plants, trees, and green spaces for the public.

Just this past year with the pandemic virus affecting all of us in one way or another, the need for green space to keep us mentally and physically balanced, should be paramount in the discussion regarding Pier 5.

Our one square mile according to the 2016 census has over 17,000 residents. With all the new buildings and the permitted proposals, our census could swell to over 22,000 residents and counting. Put in perspective, the average number of residents per square mile in Boston is around 14,000 residents.

We are a dense community and need to be cognizant about future building as our quality of life as we know it now, could be forever compromised.

This issue is not just a Navy Yard issue but one that all of Charlestown needs to think about, look around and ask themselves what Pier 5 can do for them.

It can give them a waterfront park, access to the beautiful harbor views, a connection to nature and enjoy the benefits of an enhanced quality of life. A dream come through for the whole community, a nautical oasis!

Ann Kelleher

We Need a Win-Win Proposition

To the Editor,

I write with respect to the proposed redevelopment of Pier 5 at the Charlestown Navy Yard (CNY), on which the BPDA held a public hearing on February 8, 2021. My wife and I are residents at the Flagship Wharf, an immediate abutter to Pier 5. Three developers, Urbanica, Inc., 6M Development LLC, and Navy Blue LLC, presented proposals, which can be accessed on BPDA’s website. 

Pier 5 is a small yet complex project. Among its complexities is whether the development is permissible under the web of regulations governing use of the site. These include Chapter 91 of the Massachusetts Public Waterfront Act, the US Navy Transfer Documents, Municipal Harbor Plan, Coastal Development Overlay, among others. The BPDA should provide clarity on this point, without which the public cannot properly assess the merits of the project.

A second issue pertains to the legality of 6M’s and Navy Blue’s claim that their de-facto residential development of 138 and 122 floating housing units, respectively, is a “marina” and a “water-dependent use,” thus bypassing set-back, open space and affordable housing requirements under Chapter 91. While these floating housing units are water-adjacent, nothing about them makes them water-dependent. Their very viability, in fact, is predicated on their being safely and permanently tethered to land, including the fact that all essential utilities serving these buildings, including electricity, gas, water, sewage and waste removal are land-dependent. The BPDA should issue a finding against such a blatant attempt to usurp a public good (a historical pier and its adjoining water sheet) for private gain.

Most importantly, there is the need to define an overarching vision for the project, one which addresses the urban, historical and community contexts of the project.

Pier 5 sits at the “Head of the Harbor”, an unrivaled spot to enjoy, contemplate and celebrate this great harbor city we call home. It needs to be a public-spirited project, not a private enclave. It calls for iconic public spaces at the end of the pier, endowed with public art, exhibits and amenities to further activate the harborfront. 

Built in 1912 and expanded in 1943 to support America’s WWII efforts, Pier 5 is an indelible part of the rich naval history of the Navy Yard. Many Charlestown residents can recount stories of family members (or themselves!) who fought in World War II, and either set sail from or disembarked here in the Navy Yard, or whose ships docked here for repairs. This embedded cultural memory makes Pier 5 a community asset, indeed a public treasure.

Properly executed, Pier 5 can provide substantial public benefits to the people of Boston and the Charlestown community, celebrate and enhance the 220-year-old Charlestown Navy Yard, and create a win-win proposition for all stakeholders – city, community, civic organizations and developers alike. Leveraging this four-way partnership, we can set a shining example of a community uniting behind a greater good, a bolder vision and a brighter future, to jointly create a legacy that is destined to be the “Jewel of the Harbor.” 

 James S. Lee, AIA

Flagship Wharf

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