Pier 5 Challenges

Environmental  1.  Rising Sea Level impacts on Pier 5, including severe exposure to winter storm conditions. 2.  Limitations on the use of Tidal lands under M.G.L.c. 91 for water dependent uses only and the associated exclusion of public from East and West sides of Pier 5 and inaccessibility of the end of Pier 5 through …

Pier 5 Challenges Read More »


1.  Rising Sea Level impacts on Pier 5, including severe exposure to winter storm conditions.

2.  Limitations on the use of Tidal lands under M.G.L.c. 91 for water dependent uses only and the associated exclusion of public from East and West sides of Pier 5 and inaccessibility of the end of Pier 5 through a maze of housing units.

3.  Demolition of Pier 5 which will uncover hazardous pollutants and waste likely to be found under Pier 5 based upon prior use as active Naval facility and historic use of lead, asbestos and other hazardous substances in connection with commonly used hazardous products. Release of these pollutants into the ‘clean harbor waters’ to the detriment of the public, marine and wild life. 

Damage to adjacent structures

1. Destruction of Courageous Sailing and Water Dependent uses from increased footprint of Pier 5 reduction of Watersheet and Wind screen from the proposed developments.

2.  Pier 5 demolition or dewatering and impact on adjacent foundation slurry wall of Flagship Wharf from both demolition and reconstruction or pile driving.

BPDA failure of stewardship of Pier 5 and resulting conflict of interest 

1. BPDA and its predecessor have failed to demonstrate ownership of development rights, or recognize the development right limitations placed by BPDA predecessor BRA on Pier 5 development, which limits development to 15 townhouse units for the BPDA’s financial benefit. 

2.  BPDA’s failure to keep and maintain properties entrusted to its care based upon over 40 years of ownership of Pier 5 and its complete failure of maintenance and upkeep of Pier 5 (and other structures) based upon 30 year old studies which show required maintenance which were systematically and routinely ignored.

3. BPDA’s financial interest in development (overdevelopment) through linkage payments as a revenue source for operations and as a cover for its failure to maintain properties under its stewardship as noted above. 

Significant zoning and safety issues with the present proposals from Urbanica, 6M and Navy Blue 

1. Excessive number of units (55-89 maze like multifamily uses) and associated issues of lack of emergency services for over water and water surrounded hosuing which presents health and safety hazards to the occupants of the development. 

2. Excessive density and increase of use of associated access, will cause congestion, and parking issues and limitations on land based emergency services for the development and existing areas residents with 8th St. as the only vehicle access to the development and 500 existing units. 

3. Lack of infrastructure for a project over water of this size requiring permanent water, sewer, electrical and other connections to service residential units and lack of additional parking.

4. Lack of parking and transportation infrastructure will be overwhelmed because of the excessive amount of units with no new parking and the limited number of parking at the Flagship Wharf garage which parking has been previously claimed by all other recent developments. The upcoming proposed elimination of service for the Navy Yard Water Shuttle and lack of corresponding public transportation intensify the transportation access problem. 

5. Lack of financial feasibility of each project is apparent because none of the developers has included contingencies for environmental issues including hazardous waste, protection of adjacent structures and uses and emergency and public access to the development which come at an increased cost have not been factored in. 

Floating home fallacy

The floating homes proposals of 6M and Navy Blue are not a water dependent use and preclude public access to Pier 5. The true intent of this mischaracterization as floating homes is to claim a marine uses to bypass zoning height, set-back, open space requirements and Chapter 91 water dependent requirements. While these floating housing units are water-adjacent, they are not water-dependent. The use of a ‘marine’ designation is a deliberate attempt to avoid otherwise applicable zoning limitations and calls into question whether such ‘floating homes’ will be subject to real estate taxes and land based linkage payment to BPDA which are significantly less for ‘marine structures’ v. real estate development. Will Boston real estate taxpayers be left holding the bag for the cost of infrastructure and emergency services without commensurate tax payments?

There are other significant regulatory issues and studies that are required before any further consideration of even the partial demolition of Pier 5 not to mention redevelopment, can be considered. There needs to be an environmental impact study, harbor floor core borings in consultation with the DEP and the EPA to determine pollutants and mitigation requirements for harbor pollution and marine and wildlife protection. Structural studies are needed to determine the impact of Pier 5 construction including even partial demolition and structural additions to Pier 5 and its impact on Flagship Wharf. Wind studies and proposals to protect Courageous Sailing. Emergency access and infrastructure studies are needed for fire and police emergency access, the handling of both potable and waste water, traffic and congestion studies to determine the impact on existing residents. Other State and Federal stakeholders and their permitting process and their regulatory interest have not been identified by BPDA not to mention even considered. (Dept of Navy, Coast Guard, Interior and National Parks, NOAA Coastal Zone Management, Fishing and Wildlife, EPA, DEP, Mass Dept. of Environmental Resources, Public Health, Mass Dept of Recreation and Conservation, etc).

Given the significant issues and the number of Federal and State agencies whose involvement is required, these Proposals must be summarily denied until such time as a full evaluation of the impact of demolition or proposed redevelopment of Pier 5 can be evaluated and protections existing uses and area residents can be put into place.