A number of people responded to the Convention Center Authority (MCCA) with concerns about the location of the fairly massive boiler facility. We brought it to the attention of the SAND e-mail list, and to the attention of our elected officials.
The MCCA invited three delegates of SAND to come and discuss the issue with them. SAND, in turn, asked Senator Lynch, City Council President Kelly and Representative Hart to also join in this meeting. (Dan Lynch of Senator Lynch's office attended).
To cut to the chase, the MCCA has made significant progress. They agree that the boiler facility as described should not have been part of the Final Project Impact Report (FPIR), but as the community pressure has risen so has the need to make changes more concrete. According to the MCCA, the boiler facility is being integrated into the Convention Center near the highest point on the convention center roof, so it is no longer is a separate outpost along C Street. In other words, the MCCA has taken the 200' outpost building and the smokestacks off the map. They are now trying to join with the Headquarters Hotel to combine power/heat needs together into a centralized location -- this would be a significant improvement in fuel economy and also reduce design and construction costs.
SAND delegates have received continued assurances from Convention Center planners and City officials that the boiler facility documented below would be relocated. Support for this position was included in comments submitted to the BRA by the South Boston Neighborhood Design Advisory Committee. Despite these assurances, no action has been taken to relocate the boiler room, and it is included as part of the Project Impact Report submitted last week by the MCCA to the BRA.
As documented in the FPIR, the three 123-foot boiler smokestacks will vent oil and gas burners and may be considered for diesel exhaust as well.
SAND has responded to Massachusetts Convention Center Authority plans for location of a 10-30,000 square foot boiler plant and smokestack at the northwest corner of the facility. This boiler plant would vent exhaust from the 60-acre convention facility directly into the Fort Point neighborhood -- only a few hundred feet from Fort Point parcels identified for increased residential development in the South Boston Public Realm Plan.
Hundreds of residents currently reside within one to two blocks of the proposed boiler plant site. Approximately 200 additional tenants are already slated to move into Fort Point Place, a 200,000 square foot residential project approved and under construction within two blocks of the proposed boiler plant.
A number of potential alternatives exist (for example within the facility, isolated from residential areas), however Convention Center planners are citing cost containment issues to dismiss alternatives. SAND has notified the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority in writing to stress potential impacts to the Fort Point neighborhood prior to the agency's issuing of a Request for Proposals on the boiler plant.
- The Seaport Alliance for a Neighborhood Design (SAND)
- December 3, 1999
- Mr. Fred Peterson
- South Boston Community Liaison
- Massachusetts Convention Center Authority
- 348 D Street, South Boston, MA 02127
- Dear Mr. Peterson,
RE: Location and design of Central Boiler Plant Facility
The Seaport Alliance for a Neighborhood Design registers its serious objection to the location and design of the Boiler plant facility as currently shown in the Convention Center Schematic Drawings set (dated 9-30-99) as an "out parcel" on the North- West Corner of the facility along the Railroad right-of way. We are aware that the MCCA is putting out an RFP for utility companies for this facility and are deeply concerned about the scope and design of a free-standing facility creating an inappropriate service "backyard" towards the Fort Point Neighborhood. We urge you to amend the Facility design and scope as soon as possible, and amend the RFP to ensure that bids are not invited for an unacceptably scoped facility. Our particular concerns are as follows:
Size and Location
We learn that the size of the facility may vary from 10,000 sf (as presently shown in the drawings) to 30,000 sf depending on utility company preferences to centralize chiller plants (currently indicated dispersed over the meeting room blocks). We are particularly worried that the 85 to 100 foot high stack (chimney) over a large 24 foot high free-standing service building (not previously indicated on any renderings) is an unacceptable frontage abutting a vital mixed use neighborhood. We are also concerned that the possible enlargement of the facility would block service road access and possibly the railroad right of way, both of which should be preserved to maintain future infrastructure options.
Per discussions with architects and engineers you kindly arranged on Friday, we were told of alternate locations that the designers were considering below the Summer Street fronting deck. We recognize that there maybe a cost implication of a location change that integrated the stack in the main convention center building. However we feel that this is the sole option which behooves a billion dollar facility which hopes to seamlessly connect with its context.
Operation & management
The "efficient" operations of the facility (as would be preferred by a utility company) are at odds with the design of this sensitive neighborhood frontage.
We understand that a central chiller plant may be a preferred option for a contracted utility company, adding to the noise and size of the "Boiler Plant". Recognizing that such a combined facility would be oversized, the Schematic architectural plans show dispersed chiller units on the roof of the meeting rooms. Besides the noise and emissions concerns of such a facility, we are concerned about the long term viability of any operational compromise the project team might suggest today.
We are encouraged to learn that the RFP will require utility companies to use clean burning fuels (gas) and to strictly adhere to the MCCA consultants design, which we suggest must be amended suitably to ensure no visual, noise or emission impact to abutters, before an agreement with Utility companies is finalized.
We learn that the Central Boiler Plant and Chiller are sized to serve the convention center alone. We hope that leading edge renewable energy options will be incorporated in the sizing and specifications of all services, to yield a smaller, more environment friendly solution.
Impact on Public Realm Design
The design must continue to reinforce the Public Realm Plan of the BRA on all sides, including the western park extension to the Fort Point Channel indicated in the Convention center Site Plan. Only with a full revision of the Boiler Plant as discussed above shall the Convention Center do so from the North and West of the facility.
We strongly urge you to change siting, to reflect all such intent in the ensuing RFP, and keep looking at ways to increase energy efficiency (smaller complex), or shared with Hotel. We respect the quality and commitment of the designers and hope that more creative solutions that are respectful of all abutting neighborhoods shall be found.
We request you to kindly report back on the actions you take on this issue, and assure you of our continued commitment to work together on a great civic design.
- Pratap Talwar and Jon Seward
- On behalf of :
- The Seaport Alliance for a Neighborhood Design
- 300 Summer Street, South Boston, 02210
- cc: Mr. Bob O Shea, NDAC
- Senator Stephen F. Lynch
- City Council President James Kelly
- State Representative Jack Hart
- Mr. Anthony Gilardi, Mayor's Office
- Becky Dwyer, 249 A Street Cooperative
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