Another Reader Takes Issue With Pier 5 Coverage

To the Editor, Thank you for publishing our letter to the Editor thanking the community and also for the wonderful coverage of our Pier 5 party on Page 12. So it is somewhat disheartening to see that there was a disparaging and error-filled article on Page 8 in the same edition regarding Veterans who are …

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To the Editor, Thank you for publishing our letter to the Editor thanking the community and also for the wonderful coverage of our Pier 5 party on Page 12. So it is somewhat disheartening to see that there was a disparaging and error-filled article on Page 8 in the same edition regarding Veterans who are against a park on Pier 5.  It was published in the print edition without any byline and appears online as from “Patriot Bridge Staff.”  People are certainly entitled to their opinion and indeed there are a few varying opinions in the community about what should happen with Pier 5.  They are not widely supported.  The Pier 5 Association has broad support from throughout the community and an online petition with almost 2,100 signatures and a further 600 or so of physical signatures from Charlestown proper.  The comments we receive are virtually unanimous in strong support for a public park on the Charlestown waterfront as we are one of the few neighborhoods in the city without a waterfront facing park.   In fact, many of our supporters were in favor of a particular housing option and when presented with facts and an alternative are now enthusiastic supporters of a public park on the Pier. The neighborhood vision of the Pier 5 park would acknowledge the rich Naval history of the Pier and honor the sacrifice of all our men and women who fought in the wars and supported the operations at the Charlestown Navy Yard throughout the decades.  Please don’t conflate our desire to have a open public space on the Pier as disrespecting the Veteran’s who so bravely fought on behalf of all our citizens.  We have veterans in our group working with us in support of a park in addition to most of us being spouses or children of veterans.  My father served in World War II on the Troop Transport, the U.S.S. Wakefield and his tour of duty ended some one and a half years after peace was declared until every serviceman was brought home safely from all the far flung locations throughout the South East Asian operating theater.  It is a specific point of pride for me that the Wakefield came to the Navy Yard on two or three occasions during the war to repair damage to the ship from torpedo attacks. In the article, the name of our organization is incorrect.  We are called the Pier 5 Association.  To my knowledge, there is not a Save Pier 5 group.  The article further goes on to state that we have pooled resources to hire lobbyist Tom O’Neill.  That is factually incorrect.  There is another group that is working to restore Pier 5 who have engaged the services of O’Neill and Associates.  It is presented as a negative, although I would assert that 6M Development has also employed a lobbyist in the hiring of Greg Nolan. Flagship Wharf residents were singled out, but I would point out that our Pier 5 party on the 26th was a success because of the help and volunteers from not just Flagship Wharf, but Parris Landing, Constellation Wharf, Shipway and many neighbors from Charlestown proper. It is also erroneous to suggest that we advocate for the demolition and rebuilding of Pier 5 at great cost.  In fact, the opposite is true.  We believe that the existing Pier can be rehabilitated without demolition at a much lower cost and can still support lighter loads allowing for safe pedestrian access.    Our group has and continues to do extensive research on this possibility.  A demolition and rebuild is required for supporting heavier loads, such as for housing that the three proposals have put forth, 6M included. It should also be noted that demolishing Pier 5 is fraught with environmental risks as there are a host of toxic chemicals and materials from the Pier’s long history of shipbuilding and repair.  These deposits are best left undisturbed.  Demolishing the Pier could present a host of environmental issues that would impact all of the surrounding structures and residents.  Likewise a demolition and rebuild could threaten the structural integrity and stability of the seawall supporting the Harborwalk and surrounding structures including Pier 4, Pier 6 and Constellation Wharf in addition to the public underground garage at Flagship Wharf. Further, all three proposals threaten the ability of Courageous Sailing to continue to provide programs to the children of Charlestown and all of Boston by encroaching on the watersheet that Courageous needs to safely operate. I will leave it to others with more knowledge to present the arguments as to why housing, of any type, is not feasible on Pier 5 given the risks that climate issues present. It is factually incorrect and insulting that our Association instituted the idea of a park as a “ploy” to prevent or delay development on the Pier.  Many of us in the Pier 5 Association have been advocating for a public park for the entire community for the better part of thirty years.  As you can see from the above examples, redevelopment of the Pier has many risks which have factored into our decision that a park is a viable solution for this unique and difficult Pier 5 location.  The article that you published is part and parcel of an ongoing disinformation campaign being waged by representatives of 6M.  If their project is as good as they say it is, they should stand behind it rather than spread lies and disinformation about others. I believe the original plans that 6M presented in the RFP for Pier 5 had no mention of our Veterans and their need for housing in their original proposal.  It was only after it became clear that 6M was the most deficient of the three proposals that this “ploy” for housing for Veterans was put forth. There is a growing need, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic, for open space in all communities and it has become a part of most politicians’ social justice platforms.  There is no waterfront access to the harbor for most children throughout Charlestown.  Likewise, the need for affordable housing and housing for our Veterans is also great.  But affordable housing and open space should not be considered a zero sum game.  Our City has the resources to do both and it does not serve anyone’s purpose to pit one group against the other. I will end this letter going back to my comment that this article was published without attribution which I believe is not a common journalistic practice.  Please provide your readers with the author(s) of the article. They should go on record and stand by their destructive words.  Likewise, I believe it is incumbent upon the Charlestown Patriot Bridge to publish a retraction of the article and to correct the numerous misstatements the article contained. Kathy Elliott

Letters to the Editor