NOTE: THIS IS A COMPLEX, BUT IMPORTANT ISSUE -- ESPECIALLY REGARDING PUBLIC PROCESS.
At a March 11th meeting of the Central Artery, regarding the status of the agency's ongoing Fort Point Channel Restoration Project, Artery representatives presented an update of plans for the construction of a Fort Point Channel ferry terminal along Russia Wharf (between the Congress St. Bridge and the New Northern Ave. Bridge). SAND members have been attending Artery meetings and have supported the ferry terminal project as it was proceeding on Russia Wharf, 100 feet to the North of the M/V Chelsea red ferry.
At this meeting, however, the Artery's plans included a shift from the former location of this ferry terminal (already permitted at the western corner of the New Northern Ave. Bridge) to a new location at the Congress St. corner -- on the water-based site currently occupied by the M/V Chelsea red ferry. The Artery representatives did not mention the M/V Chelsea, or acknowledge its existence in any maps or renderings. SAND core members, in fact, were only recently made aware by a neighborhood resident of the Artery's intent to displace the M/V Chelsea.
[Background: SAND core group members have been working for approximately 6 months with the owner of the M/V Chelsea to reach a level of comfort with plans for a rowing club alongside the red ferry. In summary, SAND stated its position that if the rowing club is to move forward as a for-profit operation supported through paid memberships, it must include a public amenity package (access to docks, etc.). SAND has stated that all public amenities must be binding through permitting with the City of Boston before the club would receive SAND's approval. These discussions are ongoing.]
At the Artery meeting, a SAND representative asked the Artery when the M/V Chelsea's owner had been notified of the Artery's plans, and whether the owner had the benefit of public hearings, a public comment period and a decision by the Environmental Office regarding the displacement of the M/V Chelsea. Central Artery Representative Fred Yalouris indicated that the issue was discussed at prior Central Artery/Fort Point Restoration meeting. (A number of SAND members were present at that meeting and no mention of M/V Chelsea's displacement were mentioned).
SAND requested that the Central Artery -- if it proceeds with a relocation of the ferry on the site occupied by the M/V Chelsea -- must file a Project Change notice to the EOEA, triggering a fair public process for the benefit of the community and the M/V Chelsea. Mr. Yalouris indicated that the Artery did not intend to file a project change for the 100-foot dock relocation, but stated that our comments would be considered.
The following letter was sent to the Artery, subsequent to the March 11 meeting.
(2 minor typographical errors have been corrected)
- Mr. Michael P. Lewis
- Central Artery
- 185 Kneeland St.
- Boston, MA 02111
Dear Mr. Lewis:
The Seaport Alliance for a Neighborhood Design (SAND) is a community group based in South Boston's Fort Point Channel neighborhood. We have worked dilligently over the last year as advocates for the development of a mixed-use neighborhood in the evolving Seaport District.
SAND core group members have been meeting with Jim Concannon, owner of the M/V Chelsea Red Ferry at 300 Congress St., over the past six months in an attempt to understand each of our goals - ours with regard to the public realm and Mr. Concannon's, with regard to the operation of a rowing club alongside the M/V Chelsea. These discussions are ongoing.
It was a complete surprise to learn last week from Valerie Burns of the Natural Areas Foundation that the Central Artery was moving forward with the displacement of the M/V Chelsea. We have attended the Artery's prior two Fort Point Channel Restoration meetings and there was no mention of a plan to develop the site now occupied by the M/V Chelsea.
Although SAND absolutely supports the construction of a public ferry service on Russia Wharf and we will continue to work with the Central Artery on this project, we are very concerned about the process by which the Artery and MBTA have made internal decisions to displace the M/V Chelsea without a single public hearing, a comment period or decision by the EOEA. To a community group, a public process is critical for such a major change in order to provide feedback to the proponent - often improving the final result.
We expect that you will resolve this issue with Mr. Concannon in order to allow for the coexistence of the Artery dock and the M/V Chelsea. If the Chelsea is displaced but not suitably relocated by the Artery project in its pursuit of a new terminal site, we expect the Central Artery to file project change notice and we would be available for public hearings, public comment and the EOEA decision as required by Chapter 91 project change regulations.
SAND recently filed ENF/PNF comments on a Wharf 8 development proposal in South Boston, including a strong statement on behalf of impacted tenants along Wharf 8. In this matter, the BRA, the EOEA, the DEP, South Boston leaders, community groups and Harbor advocacy groups worked closely with the tenants and vessels on and alongside Wharf 8. The public process worked to the satisfaction of the land and water-based tenants - and to the satisfaction of the project proponent. On a separate issue, we ask for the Artery's consideration of our Fort Point Channel community by holding all Fort Point Channel Restoration/Design meetings in the impacted neighborhood, perhaps at the Children's Museum or 300 Summer St. atrium (call us for other suggestions). The Kneeland St. address is not convenient for most residents, especially the elderly. We understand these meetings will occur on the 2nd Thursday of each month and hope to receive timely notices.
Please feel free to contact me if I can be of further assistance. We look forward to working with you.
- Steve Hollinger
- on behalf of:
- The Seaport Alliance for a Neighborhood Design (SAND)
- 300 Summer St., South Boston, 02210 617-423-4299
- cc: Mr. Fred Yalouris, Central Artery
- Mr. Ronald Killian, Central Artery
- Mr. David Ryan, MBTA
- Mr. Jim Concannon, M/V Chelsea
- Ms. Vivien Li, The Boston Harbor Association
- Ms. Becky Dwyer, Fort Point Arts Community (FPAC)
Your comments as a visitor to the SAND website would be appreciated and forwarded for discussion.