Letters to the Editor

BPDA Issues: Pier 5 Update to the Community

To the Editor,

The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) would like to update the community regarding Pier 5 in the Charlestown Navy Yard. We greatly appreciate every community member that has engaged in future planning efforts for this site, and we look forward to continued engagement as the BPDA pursues the next steps for Pier 5.

Originally built in the 1940’s for military industrial use, public access to Pier 5 is currently prohibited due to its severe deterioration. An initial inspection in 2018 detailed the extent of deterioration at Pier 5 and laid out several potential alternatives for future site investment including full pier demolition, full pier repair, and partial pier repair. Leveraging this preliminary work, the BPDA is looking to take next steps towards identifying and moving forward with an appropriate alternative for Pier 5.

At the next BPDA Board Meeting on October 13, 2022, staff will be requesting approval for the advertisement and issuance of a Request for Proposals (RFP) to hire an engineering design consultant for Pier 5. The purpose of this RFP is to contract a qualified maritime engineering firm to perform a comprehensive assessment of Pier 5 and recommend engineering approaches, design alternatives and cost estimates for addressing the condition of the pier. A qualified respondent will also perform design services including construction administration for the repair, improvement, and/or demolition of the Pier and the production of construction documents, depending on the findings in the engineering report. This step is critical in establishing what the potential possibilities and limitations might be for the site in a transparent and comprehensive way.

Once the engineering assessment is complete, the BPDA will share the findings that will guide us in future capital planning and/or disposition efforts at Pier 5.

We at the BPDA wanted to again thank you for your commitment to the Charlestown neighborhood. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to Natalie Deduck at [email protected].

For continued updates on Pier 5, please check the BPDA website.

The BPDA Real Estate Team

Constitution Inn Project for the Homeless IS Too Much, Too Fast

To the Editor,

The October 6 Patriot-Bridge report on the October 4 Charlestown Neighborhood Council hearing on the Constitution Inn housing project underestimated the impact this conversion of the Constitution Inn would create. It was correct in identifying a turnout of over 200 people for discussion of the project and correct for identifying the dismay of residents that, despite planning for months, this was the first public hearing. A number of project elements need precise exposure, clarification and discussion not identified. This project is unique to Charlestown and to Boston. The overwhelming response opposed the project.

The Constitution Inn Project, now termed “The Helm on Third”, is portrayed as affordable housing. On the contrary, it is a housing plan for the recently homeless who have complex social, behavioral and healthcare needs requiring resources and services that far exceed what community based affordable housing would provide. These individuals would be taken from the communities where they have been living and away from personal support systems to a community where transportation, parking, access to and from their residence, shopping, food purchase and healthcare will all be a challenge. This dislocation is cruel to the residents and unfair to Charlestown. The comparison to St. Francis House on Boylston Street is disingenuous. That facility has a sophisticated Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program clinic in the building and serves as well as a shelter (see St. Francis House (stfrancishouse.org).

Rather than affordable housing, the project represents a new housing model which is unprecedented. Consider a housing facility that requires full time onsite property managers, 24/7 security, 7 days per week full time Housing Manager, two Resident Life Coordinators, 4 Housing Stabilization Case Managers and a Licensed Social Worker (see The-Helm-on-Third-FAQs.pdf (stfrancishouse.org). Addiction treatment/housing services will include “on-site case management services to support residents as well as to connect residents with community-based providers, including, but not limited to substance use treatment and supports, career training, job search assistance, mental health counseling, primary care” according to the website. The proponent’s request for a waiver of Article 80 Review dated just one day after the CNC meeting extends the impression that the proponents wish to accelerate the process, limit review and diminish or eliminate the public engagement and commentary such a project should demand. (see 2022-10-05_Additional Information_Request to Waive Large Project Review_Constitution Inn 150 Third Avenue.pdf | Powered by Box).

The Constitution Inn housing development (The Helm on Third) is a social experiment in which the proponents hope Charlestown will participate. It is not just affordable housing. Charlestown at present with the completion of Bunker Hill Housing Redevelopment will have the highest density of affordable housing of any Boston Neighborhood. Other development under review will also add affordable housing units. The Helm on Third cannot be justified on this type of housing need. The project is wrong for Charlestown and those who would be housed. Charlestown should not be asked to participate in this experiment without adequate discussion, detail and transparency. Certainly, a waiver of Article 80 would be improper.

We who sign this letter are residents of Constellation Wharf, Pier 7. Though property owners, abutters and community members, we have not had contact from the Constitution Inn development proponents despite their recent public and posted online attestations. We urge our elected and public officials, the BPDA, Counselor Coletta and the Charlestown Neighborhood Council to slow this process, allow further factfinding, increase community engagement, increase transparency and to recognize the unique unprecedented elements of the Constitution Inn conversion for which Charlestown is unprepared and under resourced.

Gerald Angoff

Barbara Shegog

Noreen Marton

Teresa Chuang

Bill Coady

Steve Nutile

Chris Capuano

Clare Afdhal

Craig Emrick

Elaine Wang

Kate Herman

Lauren Von Fabrice

Peter Marton

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