Projected Population Growth Has BPDA Add Neighborhood Services

By Michael Coughlin Jr.

In conjunction with PLAN: Charlestown — a 30-year planning initiative for the neighborhood — the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) made recommendations for 10 neighborhood services accounting for a projected population growth during a public meeting on Wednesday, June 14.

Jason Ruggiero, a Community Engagement Manager with the BPDA, mentioned that the topic of the meeting — neighborhood services — is one the BPDA is excited about.

“It exemplifies and represents comprehensive and collaborative planning across City Hall, across various departments and agencies,” said Ruggiero.

In order to make recommendations for various neighborhood services throughout Charlestown, the BPDA used its pending land use and density recommendations from a hybrid scenario revealed in March, along with other assumptions, to project the neighborhood’s maximum population in future years.

“We took that density, and these areas and land uses, and we made some assumptions — some you know mathematical assumptions — like you would in math class in middle school about how do you actually project out how many people might live here,” said Patricia Cafferky, a Senior Planner with the BPDA.

These assumptions include that all parcels are built out to 100% of their allowed square footage and 100% of residential parcels, and 50% of mixed-use parcels are developed into housing.

“Both of those things we don’t really expect to happen in the next 30 years. There are certain users in Charlestown … that we expect to stay for longer than 30 years, but this projection is based on if everything changed because we want to plan for the maximums,” said Cafferky.

Other assumptions include an efficiency ratio of 80%, meaning 80% of a building could be rented, the average housing unit size is 1,000 square feet which, according to Cafferky, is “on target” with the city-wide average, and the average occupancy per housing unit is 1.7 — a number that is the same as the Article 80 average city-wide, per Cafferky.

Moreover, the BPDA also used demographic assumptions in its population projection. “We took some demographic information, not only how many people but what age are those people going to be, and we based that on the demographics that we see in Article 80s city-wide,” said Cafferky.

Using all of this information, the BPDA projects that the maximum population in the year 2050 would be around 36,800 people, which is just over 5,000 more people than Charlestown’s population in 1950 and an 80% increase in the neighborhood’s population in 2021. It should be noted that these projections do not include employees or the number of businesses.

“We don’t expect it to actually get to that number, but this number is what we’re doing our planning around with Boston Public Schools (BPS), EMS (Emergency Medical Services), Fire, Police — so we’re setting that as a max,” said Cafferky.

“In reality, what we think it’ll actually be is that by 2050 Charlestown finally gets back to its population from 1950, but we’re planning to a higher number than that as a buffer,” she added.

Regarding how this population projection relates to age, the most significant projected increases over the timeframe would be in the 18-34 and 35-64 age groups, while most new children would be daycare-aged — ages zero to four.

Using the maximum projection, the BPDA then presented recommendations for 10 neighborhood services to accommodate these potential changes. These services include EMS, Police, Fire, Emergency Management, Libraries, Schools, Community Centers, Water and Sewer, Trash Collection, and Street Sweeping and Snow and Ice Control. 

For each of these services, Cafferky went through slides that depicted how each service runs today as well as current and future needs before displaying the BPDA’s recommendations.

As for EMS in Charlestown, there is currently only one station and one ambulance. However, recommendations include that the BPDA and EMS should add another ambulance bay to accommodate a second ambulance and that call volumes should be monitored annually over the next three decades to determine if there is a need for a third EMS station. 

Regarding the police department, currently, Charlestown is within Area A with two district stations serving the neighborhood — A-1 and A-15 — the latter station being a “hybrid station.” This means the front desk is closed at night, and reports go to A-1 during the midnight shift.

To accommodate impending population growth, the BPDA recommends that the city conduct a study to determine what is needed to upgrade the A-15 station for full operations, add officers to the area based on call volume, funding for police programs be designated when projects are permitted rather than after construction and supporting addiction recovery programs, youth programs and more.

Concerning the fire department, there are two stations which include two engines and one ladder company, in the neighborhood. Looking to the future, the BPDA recommends that the neighborhood’s fire companies be trained in “tech rescue,” — which is used on construction sites.

Other fire department recommendations include monitoring call volume over the next two or three decades to determine if the neighborhood needs its own District Chief or a new station and to study the need for a dedicated marine asset.

The BPDA also made recommendations for Emergency Management, specifically the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), which according to the presentation, handles “Emergency management, emergency preparedness, and homeland security planning for the City of Boston.”

These recommendations include the OEM exploring the possibility of designating the Edwards and Warren-Prescott schools as emergency shelters if more capacity is needed, continuing to evaluate egress and emergency response plans as the population grows, and continuing to coordinate with other city departments to determine the impact projects have on emergency response.

Charlestown also holds one Boston Public Library (BPL) branch, in which the BPDA recommends that an upcoming BPL strategic plan should take these population projections into account and that the branch’s needs should be reevaluated every five years, coinciding with the city’s capital budget.

In terms of schooling, the neighborhood has three BPS schools, Warren-Prescott (K-8th grade), Harvard-Kent (K-6th grade), and Charlestown High (7th-12th grade). In the future, the BPDA recommends that BPS explore changing the Warren-Prescott to K through 6th grade and working with the Office of Early Childhood to open up new seats in childcare centers for babies and toddlers.

The BPDA also suggests working with the Horace Mann School community to find a permanent location  — the community is slated to use the old Edwards Middle School as soon as Fall 2024.

Suggestions were also made for the neighborhood’s Community Centers; there are three facilities run by the Boston Centers for Youth & Families (BCYF), which include the Charlestown Community Center, the to-be-renovated Clougherty Pool, and Golden Age Senior Center.

Some of these recommendations include developments with community space working with BCYF early on, funding senior programming, completing a city-wide technology needs assessment, and more.

As for water and sewer, the BPDA recommends that the Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC) continues to replace existing combined sewers, enforce the Infiltration and Inflow Reduction (IIR) requirement, and that developers will be responsible for building their own local sewer lines and increasing capacity if needed.

Further, regarding trash and recycling, Cafferky said, “At this time, the Public Works Department does not think that there are any future needs that they cannot handle within their current system.”

Finally, in terms of Street Sweeping and Snow and Ice Control, Cafferky said, “We expect that the streets that are created through PLAN: Charlestown through development, West of Rutherford Ave would all have snow control and street sweeping from our Public Works Department.”

All of the information from last week’s meeting and a recording of the session can be found at

As for the next steps, the BPDA will hold another meeting under the umbrella of its Neighborhood Needs Analysis, which will address things like Housing, Retail, Food Security, and more at a date to be determined.

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