Today was the final day of public comment on recent changes to the South Boston Marine Industrial Park zoning, submitted by the Boston Redevelopment Authority for approval by the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs.

The major change proposed to MIP zoning would change zoning of select parcels from "maritime industrial" to allow for "retail" and "commercial" uses including restaurant, cultural and office projects.

SAND has submitted the following comments for consideration.

November 9, 1998

Ms Trudy Coxe, Secretary
Executive Office of Environmental Affairs
100 Cambridge Street
Boston MA, 02202
Attention: MEPA Unit

Re: EOEA #8161 - Master Plan Update - Boston Marine Industrial Park

Dear Secretary Coxe:

The Seaport Alliance for a Neighborhood Design is a community group based in the Fort Point Channel neighborhood. Our members, including many Boston-area residents and business owners, have facilitated the planning of a "neighborhood" in the Seaport District, rather than strictly a hotel/office/retail district.

Although SAND has been focused on the planning of a new Seaport District community, we included as part of our charter a mandate to recognize and include the concerns of existing Seaport District constituents. We have advocated for the protection of the Marine Industrial Park and have opposed conversion of this area for uses that might compromise future expansion of shipping, seafood processing and other maritime businesses. To use a shopworn metaphor, we drew a line in the SAND at the Marine Industrial Park.

Unfortunately, as the market value for waterfront property has escalated, the Marine Industrial Port has become endangered. Massport and the BRA have proven a case for office towers and retail complexes to exist in the MIP, as these types of projects promise better jobs, profits and revenue for the City. Many of these decisions are responsive to immediate demands (i.e. Convention Center, Seaport District facelift), but have not adequately considered the long-term effect of the shrinking Marine Industrial Park.

SAND opposes zoning changes in the MIP from "maritime industrial" to "maritime retail" for the following reasons:

One would expect Massport - a quasi-public agency with a charter to strengthen and expand the Massachusetts port system, to support our effort regarding EOEA #8161 in order to preserve the MIP's zoning protections as a marine industrial park.

Unfortunately, protection of the industrial port system and property has largely been left to community activists and harbor advocacy groups. Massport, in its determination to enter the lucrative real-estate business, has continued to convert its irreplaceable resources on the waterfront into hotel, office and retail projects - projects that we have argued could be sited in many other areas of the Seaport District. And maritime business tenants on Massport property, beholden to their landlord, may now be unable to present arguments in support of their own maritime-industrial future.

Because Massport has its own near-term gains at stake, we do not believe this Authority is in a position to adequately address the long-term impact of real-estate speculation on Boston's future, vis-a-vis the social and economic consequences of a transition from a City once dependant on maritime economy to one that serves as a retail mecca. The problem is that once this valuable Marine Industrial Park is parceled off to address immediate market demands, it will be difficult or impossible to return it from retail with a water view to manufacturing with a water dependency.

Massport, ready to embark on a hotel project on its own Parcel F, is not likely to defend the use of the MIP for strict maritime-industrial use. And so, we must look to your office for zoned protection of this public trust.

Thank you,

Steve Hollinger
On behalf of:
The Seaport Alliance for a Neighborhood Design (SAND)
c/o FPAC, 300 Summer Street, Boston, MA, 02210, 617-423-4299

cc: SAND Membership

City of Boston Officials