Legal, Environmental, Climate resilience concerns:
Mayor Kim M. Janey
Honorable Daniel Ryan
Honorable Salvatore DiDomenico
Re: Objections to the BPDA Charlestown Navy Yard Pier 5 Development Proposals
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Please accept this letter to express my strenuous objection to the 3 proposals currently being considered by the BPDA for Charlestown Navy Yard Pier 5 (hereinafter referred to as ‘Pier 5’) RFP. The objections are based upon the environmental concerns including impact on tidal lands of the Commonwealth and virtual elimination of public use of Pier 5 for marine dependent uses; damage to adjacent structures and uses, over densification of residential uses creating life safety access hazards to development and area residents, lack of infrastructure for development for residential services including trash, potable and waste water, parking and transportation and deliberate mischaracterization of ‘floating homes’ as a marine based use, which makes a sham of c.91, avoids real estate taxation and other zoning limitations which would otherwise strictly apply, only to create a new income source for the BPDA and to cover for its 40 year neglect of Pier 5.
Issues are as follows:
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.
Engineering, design and regulations compliance concerns:
Re: Stop all RFP pending Comprehensive Cost/Benefit Studies of Pier 5
Restoration VS Demolition and other Site Conditions
Dear Director Brian Golden and BPDA Co-Ordinator McDaniels,
This BPDA RFP for CNY Pier 5 has not been comprehensively and responsibly
thought out prior to issuing the “AS IS” offering —which is excerpted here:
“The Property is intended for disposition by a long term ground lease by the BRA
pursuant to the RFP. The Property is being offered as is, without warranty of any
kind, express or implied. If concerned about the Property’s condition, legal or
physical access and the maintenance thereof, property lines or boundaries
or any other matter affecting the Property, prospective developers should
investigate and conduct whatever due diligence and inspection deemed
This letter is to demand that the BPDA stop this irresponsible RFP process until
all the information and determinations required are obtained, comprehensive
studies made by independent third parties, and all options evaluated and
properly priced, etc.
Perhaps the most essential and fundamental of the multitude of questions that
have been compiled in this comment period is —What are the costs, impacts and
Demolition, hazardous materials clean-up, and reconstruction of the entire
pier for heavy multi-story construction and requiring transport and
disposal of enormous volumes construction waste.
Pier restoration and "Leeds” environmental re-use and audit to support a
straightforward lightweight park platform for a public use pier using pile
wrapping techniques use for underwater bridge foundations piers.
This Cost / Benefit conclusion would appear to be a no-brainer, especially when
you enter in Leeds audit, loss of public amenity, loss of tourism, the legal
determinations such as whether the demolition or change of shape of the pier is
even permitted by the original agreement with the U.S. Navy, etc.
In attempting to obtain answers, there is the hesitance of political pressure on
engineers and contractors who are asked. The only way to by-pass this
information blocking is to request an independent study financed by the BPDA
prior to proceeding with any action on the current RFP. It may be that the
consultants needed for a true independent cost / benefit analysis might be from
outside of the regional sphere of influence.
What detailed engineering drawings, specifications and condition reports, both
existing and proposed, are actually available in full? Is there any change in the
existing structure under the crane track?
Toxic waste removal situation? Archeological, environmental and biological
resource assessments? Climate resiliency? “Highest and Best Use”
What are the actual requirements of the U.S. Navy Transfer Documents
regarding demolition, restoration or any change of shape, size or structural
Is there a comprehensive analysis of all the Piers in Boston Harbor to determine
historic, structural, environmental, climatic resilience, urbanistic vista values and
best uses of our “Harbor Fringe of Piers” ? This is required by any professional
Why is Charlestown Navy Yard Urban Pier 5 referred to in the Request for
Proposals ("RFP") as “a ground lease of a vacant parcel of land”, when it is
actually an historic pier structure over Ch. 91 MA flooded tidelands which could
be demolished. Does this require a unique “air rights” lease over flowed
waterways and how is that worded?
To consider demolishing such a large and important historic structure as
opposed to its environmentally responsible reuse is a reckless misuse of
resources. The issuing of an “As Is” RFP with complications of this magnitude is
disrespectful of both the Community and the Proposers and wasteful of
everyone's time and money —especially tax payers. Due diligence has not been
Here is a partial list of people and organizations who you should contact.
Please, don't wait and send your comments ASAP:
* Make it short and straightforward, but explain why you oppose privatization
* Explain what you would like to see in the pier and the area
* Tell (or remind:)) the City/BPDA of their obligation to maintain public areas
* Explain why you think it is important for the generations to come
Mayor Kim Janey, MAYOR@BOSTON.GOV
BPDA Board: BPDAboard@Boston.gov
A very strong supporter of our case here!
Trustees of Reservations
NICK BLACK firstname.lastname@example.org
AMY G. EYNATIAN email@example.com
AMY G. EYNATIAN firstname.lastname@example.org
The Globe -Letters <Letters@theglobe.com>
Globe- Beth Daley <email@example.com>
Boston Globe- Jon Chesto <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Brian Mcgrory <Mcgrory@globe.com>
Charlestown Patriot Bridge <email@example.com>
U.S. Coast Guard
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Our BLOG page here, has additional background information about the different aspects of Pier 5 history, marine life and environmental concerns.