Presentation to the CNC: Less Than Half the Story To the Editor: The article in the November 11, edition of the Patriot-Bridge by Adam Swift grossly underrepresented the content and impact of the BPDA presentation to the Charlestown Neighborhood Council on November 4.
The presentation was an embarrassment for the BPDA and a frustrating disappointment for Charlestown. Residents should know that the BPDA’s single focus is on disjointed and disconnected development projects unguided by any overall plan or vision for Charlestown. The agency is still the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA), its legal name. Both by name and by action, development is its business. Planning is not involved.
The BPDA (BRA) team at the CNC meeting gave as their presentation a list of the development projects currently submitted for their review and included little detail, analysis or perspective. Only at the end of their comments and in response to questions did they address planning and “Plan: Charlestown”. They admitted planning has been stalled allegedly in part by COVID for at least 3 or more years. Questions followed that were not covered by your reporter.
One Council member asked why development could not await the finish of the Plan. Another asked why the waterfront was not included and why planning did not include impact on schools, parking, transportation, traffic, fire, police. The reply was that these are “social services”. At the meeting I asked why Plan: Charlestown did not follow the description entered on the BPDA web site for which electronic links were distributed. I received no answer of substance but rather was personally attacked.
I read from their website: “PLAN: Charlestown will establish a comprehensive and coordinated plan to ensure the equitable provision of infrastructure to support future land uses and development, mobility connections into and within Charlestown, parks and open space, climate resiliency, affordable housing, as well as strategies to enhance the existing community and preserve its historic assets. The PLAN: Charlestown team is also in close coordination with an interdepartmental working group across city departments and state transportation agencies.”
(http://www.bostonplans.org/planning/planning-initiatives/plan-charlestown#summary-goals) Further search of the BPDA website reveals that Plan: Charlestown does not include the Navy Yard and Bunker Hill Housing as specified in the outsourced RFP granted by the BPDA for Plan: Charlestown consulting services:
(http://www.bostonplans.org/BRAComponents/WebParts/Default.aspx?id=4276&projectid=1253). As further evidence of the absence of planning is the list of old planning efforts that are out of date to include the update of the 1990 Navy Yard Master plan from 2007, Sullivan Square Disposition Plan from 2013, Coastal resilience Solutions For Charlestown 2017 and Revitalizing Older Houses in Charlestown from 1973. All Charlestown residents should understand that BPDA actions for Charlestown focus solely on individual development projects and not on planning. During public discussion I maintained that approval of development projects should only follow completion of planning. Why should the BPDA be acting without a plan? Incoming Mayor Wu in 2019 published a devastating critique of the BPDA, “Fixing Boston’s Broken Development Process” (https://www.riw.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/00854411.pdf). The BPDA presentation at the CNC meeting was evidence that she was correct and that profound, fundamental change should come to the BPDA. Gerald H. Angoff, MD MBA Past Time for a Reset