Letter to the Editor

Neighborhood Wide Plan Needed in Navy Yard

To the Editor,

Enough, please, of repurposed marketing material in the Patriot-Bridge. “The Anchor looks back a (sic) 2021 (1/6/22) is the latest example of one-sided “coverage” of an issue. Consider another: The introduction of a beer garden in Shipyard Park in 2019 was a poor choice, poorly executed, and it should not be repeated.

The BPDA repurposing the wading pool, fountain, upper seating area, and area at the end of Terry Ring Way to a beer garden does not reflect the restrictions in the deed conveyed by the US Department of the Interior to the City of Boston. It stipulates that the property be used “exclusively for public park or public recreation purposes.”

Additionally, the BPDA (then the BRA) envisioned that Shipyard Park be used for “open space and playground purposes” (7/16/13 memo re Shipyard Park, Charlestown Navy Yard: Authorization for Transfer of Property).

Instead, it granted an RFP to The Anchor, which advertises itself as a “two story beer garden, performing arts center and entertainment venue” (Anchor Instagram ad). That RFP is expiring, and the BPDA is soliciting new proposals.

The BPDA should not award any RFP to a “beer garden, performing arts center and entertainment venue” or any other organization that impinges on what the National Park Service has characterized as the “historic fabric” of the Navy Yard (Charlestown Navy Yard Historic Resource Study, 2010, v. 1).

Additionally, the Secretary of the US Department of the Interior should withhold her required approval for any such third-party concession agreement.

After numerous complaints to the BPDA, police, mayor’s office, and the beer garden and in contrast to marketing and PR representations, many Navy Yard residents have had enough of The Anchor:

It is not in keeping with the rest of the Navy Yard. More and more signs appear, more lights are strung, trellises are erected, and port-a-potties are installed, all detracting from the peaceful nature and beauty of this public park, one of the city’s gems. Now, with the foliage gone, those port-a-potties, unused furniture, igloos and umbrellas, and other pieces of equipment are more of an eyesore. Additionally, the garish décor of this business is not in keeping with other the historic Navy Yard. Even Dunkin’ Donuts was stopped from hanging its well-known pink and orange sign.

It is a nuisance. The noise pollution generated by the beer garden goes from bad to worse. Music routinely bounces from the bounds of the arena area to nearby residences degrading the quality of life. The City’s 72-decibel limit is unworkable for a site not designed as a music venue. The combination of stone and brick with nearby water and wind transmits sound to Flagship Wharf and Parris Landing.

It is a health and safety problem. In addition to detracting from the quiet enjoyment of our homes, the impact of excessive noise, according to the chair of environmental health at Boston University School of Public Health, “can be substantial for people’s health and well-being.” (Boston Magazine, 11/9/21).

There already are nearby businesses offering beer and wine. The closest are Pier 6, Brewer’s Fork, and Dovetail. (There are other restaurants serving drinks within an approximately one-mile radius.)

Additionally, there even has been another nearby beer garden on Constitution Wharf, importantly not in a residential neighborhood.

None of this is in keeping with “open space and playground purposes.”

For those who point to the beer garden’s community activities and events as its saving grace, please note that nothing – nothing – precludes anyone from picnicking, holding a story hour or birthday party, exercising, practicing yoga, or any other pastime common in public parks. A beer garden is not needed for those activities to occur. Further, to stage and manage any one off special events, the city can allocate some of the millions of dollars it collects from Navy Yard real-estate transactions involving redeveloped properties.

We call on the BPDA to:

1. Withdraw its RFP, as it recently did for Pier 5, when it stated that it’s “highly supportive of public space along the water’s edge.” Return this Shipyard Park public space, also on the harbor, to the public.

2. Propose a coordinated, whole-of-neighborhood plan for the Navy Yard instead of contemplating new piecemeal plans. The beer-garden site, after all, is a mere 500 feet away from Pier 5. Traffic, noise, and safety issues at one location have an impact on the other.

The BPDA must shelve its proposed RFP for Shipyard Park and recognize the site’s roots, historic value and iconic harbor-side location.

Lisa Allen

Carol Hickey

Phil Sharry

Marion Sweeney

Editor’s note: The article  referenced was a paid advertisement by The Anthem Group.

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