What Don’t You Understand BRA?

To the Editor: A letter to the editor in a recent Vineyard Gazette newspaper, caught my attention and seemed to resonate with me as we are facing monumental development proposals in our one square mile of 20,000 people. The writer stated, “It’s time to allow open meetings on huge controversial plans, wearing a mask of course, but we need to attend open meetings. These virtual meetings may be alright for trying to remove a tree or add a dormer, but huge plans need input from the public. The Vineyard is in trouble.”  We in Charlestown are in trouble.

There are monumental building proposals. There will be huge impacts on our infrastructure, green and open space. There will be thousands of new residents added to our one square mile. Surrounded by water we will be severely impacted by climate change and flooding. There are only three ways in and out of Charlestown. The Boston Planning and Development Agency throws out snippets of the upcoming proposals that are currently undergoing via the development process. My challenge to the reader, can you name all the proposals, the height of the buildings, where they are located and the projected number of new residents?  My question to the BPDA is, how many citizens / residents take advantage of one Zoom meeting after another? Are there a sufficient number of respondents to adequately access what people in the community are thinking? Could you please give us a snapshot of how many people respond to your never -ending surveys? There are over 15,000 adults living in Charlestown. Is your response rate acceptable? Can more be done to communicate the proposals and feel comfortable that all in Charlestown are aware of the future building and the impacts on this community? Last week in the Patriot Bridge, “BPDA updates CNC on neighborhood development plans,” I felt that it was hard to digest one proposal after another, where these would be located, how many units, how the Impact Advisory Group is chosen? Most importantly, what land encompasses Plan Charlestown? This question was raised by a resident at this meeting, Is the entire Charlestown, developed and undeveloped land included in Plan Charlestown? Clearly Plan Charlestown does not include the Bunker Hill Housing development, the Navy Yard, Schrafft’s Center, Mystic River area, Sullivan Square, Hood and Rise development, Rutherford Corridor, and the two Bunker Hill Parking Lot sites. What does Plan Charlestown include and exclude?   At this meeting, the facilitator stated that the BPDA does not have the last say in deciding a project as the Zoning Board has to approve or disapprove. As I recall, when concerned citizens went before the Zoning Board regarding the Hood development due to the height and density, the Hood Project was approved. The citizens ultimately are not listened to. As an aside, while attending a Hood Plant meeting years ago, the developer was asked if the building height would set a precedent for future building proposals. The developer stated, “That would not be a bad precedent to set.” Here we are years later and now experiencing that precedent. There are 2,700 signatures for a Master Plan for Charlestown that were collected in 2019 and rejected by the BPDA. Major cities all over the nation have a Master Plan. Boston needs to step up and realize business as usual is not working and not fair, this is the 21st century. Listen up BPDA, your time is up. It’s time to reset and engage the community in a meaningful way so that we all understand what’s at stake. A picture is worth a thousand words. Take out a full- page ad in the Patriot Bridge, provide a map, and show the reader just what Plan Charlestown entails. Where the new proposals are located, the height of the buildings, the number of potential residents, the amount of open and green space for all the new residents, as well as all the current development that has taken place over the last few years. Do the right thing for Charlestown and reset your strategy and include all of Charlestown. Stop with your nebulous on -line surveys. Step up to the plate and listen. Charlestown wants a better quality of life, clean air, transportation, schools, more open and green space, and more affordable housing for themselves, the community and for future residents. What don’t you understand in this picture?  Ann Kelleher

Letters to the Editor