Thursday, August 25, 2016

Boston City Council Looks At Marijuana Dispensaries, Grades Restaurants, Jams & More

City Council President Michelle Wu publishes notes from Boston City Council meetings. The Boston City Council considered these items and more at their August 24, 2016 meeting:

Open Meeting Law
The Council discussed the Attorney General’s response to the Open Meeting Law complaint from March 2016 regarding the December 2015 vote on the Winthrop Square Garage. The AG’s office found no intentional violations—the Council did not deliberate outside of open meetings to discuss the issue, and the committee meeting minutes are sufficiently accurate. However, the AG did find a violation of open meeting law in discussing a matter not listed on the meeting notice. Each public meeting, including weekly Council meetings, must be accompanied by public notice forty-eight hours in advance that outlines the topics to be discussed. Legislative bodies may discuss a topic not listed on an agenda if it was not anticipated by the chair 48 hours in advance, but where possible, discussion should be postponed until proper notice can be given to the public. In fact, since January 2016, the Council adopted additional notification procedures so that each week’s meeting agenda and packet includes the list of active dockets aka “green sheets” that could possibly come up at the meeting. Committee Chairs should still prepare committee reports in time to be listed on the agenda if at all possible. The full determination letter can be found in the Council packet.

Medicinal Marijuana Dispensaries
As mentioned previously, the revised MA Department of Public Health (DPH) process to license medical marijuana dispensaries now requires each applicant for a dispensary license to obtain a letter of support or non-opposition from the Mayor or City Council in the city where they hope to open. The letter is taken directly from template language required by the state, and it states that the Council has taken a vote at a public meeting to provide non-opposition as well as having verified that a medical marijuana dispensary would be an allowed or conditional use at the proposed site. The letter is required for applicants to proceed, and according to DPH, the Council’s role is to provide the basic verification of zoning and comfort with site and operator. In other words, the Council’s participation at this stage is not meant to substitute for community process and feedback through the Zoning Board of Appeals stage, which will happen afterwards, and we will not be picking winners and losers between potential competitor businesses. Our role is to administer a transparent, fair hearing for each applicant that provides opportunity for public feedback, then, if warranted, issue a letter stating general comfort with the site and operator, as well as verification that the use is not prohibited in the zoning code. The Council voted to issue its first letter of non-opposition on June 8, 2016, to Mayflower Medicinals for their proposed location in Allston. Today, the Council took action on two additional applicants:
  • Voted to provide a letter of non-opposition for Happy Valley Venture’s application for a medical marijuana dispensary at 220 McClellan Road Highway in East Boston. Councilor LaMattina had sponsored this hearing and stated that Happy Valley would be renovating a currently vacant site with plenty of parking, and he was comfortable with their security plan and community outreach.
  • Later in the meeting, the Council voted to decline providing a letter of non-opposition for Compassionate Organics’ application for a dispensary at 144 Harvard Avenue in Allston. Councilor Ciommo had sponsored this hearing, and took issue with the applicant’s credibility and experience. Specifically, he mentioned that Compassionate Organics had received the lowest rating on their application in the first round, and had cited verbal assurances of support from elected officials and law enforcement officers, who reported to Councilor Ciommo that they had not spoken to the applicant and certainly did not support the application. Although these issues referenced a previous application, Councilor Ciommo pointed out questions about the current application that together with previous interactions created significant concerns about the operator. Councilor LaMattina additionally stated that the applicant had not provided a site plan as other applicants had, and this information was crucial. For full transparency, Councilor Ciommo posted additional documents and explanation on his website
Restaurant Letter Grades: The Council voted to pass an ordinance sponsored by Mayor Walsh to establish a letter grading system for restaurants and food trucks. The letter grades will be based on the current health inspection criteria already in place, and will designate corresponding A, B, and C grades. The grades must be posted inside the establishment, and restaurants that receive less than an “A” will have the opportunity to receive a second inspection to improve the grade. The program will be voluntary for the first year in order to continue education efforts and support implementation.

Budget Appropriations: The Council voted to approve four budgetary items filed by Mayor Walsh:
  • Acceptance of a state law provision that allows municipalities to separately account for fees received under cable franchise agreements in support of public, educational, and governmental (PEG) access and using those funds to create a 21st Century Access Fund
  • An order to reduce the City’s collective bargaining reserve by $2,783,841 to fund the FY16 agreement between BPS, the Bus Drivers Union and vendor Transdev
  • An appropriation of $4M from the Surplus Property Fund to the Boston Housing Authority to sustain public safety staffing levels and fill the gap given the structural deficit in the BHA’s operating budget related to BHA public safety staffing (used to be funded by revenue from the Winthrop Square Garage, which has now been shut down for a number of years)
  • An appropriation of $1.2M from the Parkman Fund to the Parks Department for the maintenance and improvement of Boston Common and Parks
Charlestown Casino Impact Fund: The Council voted to authorize the creation of a trust fund to mitigated impacts from the development and operation of the Wynn casino in Everett. The fund will be overseen by a committee that includes the City’s Collector-Treasurer, District 1 City Councilor, local State Rep. & Senator, Commissioners of Public Works & Transportation, and Chief of Civic Engagement.

Charter Cap Fiscal Impacts: Councilor Essaibi-George called for a hearing to discuss the fiscal impacts of raising the charter cap as outlined by Question 2 on the November Ballot. She emphasized that she did not want to discuss the educational aspects of public schools compared to charter schools, but keep a strict focus on the budgetary implications from Question 2. The matter was assigned jointly to the Ways & Means and Education Committees.

No Upcoming Hearings/Working Sessions scheduled at this time.

As an added bonus, here's a little footage of post-meeting City Council musical performance (songs by Councilors Linehan, Essaibi-George, Ciommo, Pressley & Wu).

For complete notes on this meeting and prior Boston City Council meeting notes, visit or sign up to receive these notes automatically each week by email. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Final Week of Dine Out Boston

Dine Out Boston, popularly known as Restaurant Week, is in its final week of 2016. It is not too late to sample area restaurants at special prices. Choose your favorite or try some place new among award winning restaurants in Boston, Cambridge and the suburbs.  

Participating Fort Point and Seaport restaurants include: Barlow's Restaurant, Bastille Kitchen*, Blue Dragon*, Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House**, Miel, Morton's The Steakhouse, Ocean Prime**, Rosa Mexicano, Sapore Ristorante + Bar, Smith & Wolensky, Strega Waterfront, and Tamo. 

Chefs design prix fixe menus for lunch and dinner. Each participating restaurant selects ONE of the three price options. Lunch prices are $15/$20/$25. Dinner prices are $28/$33/$38.

For a complete list of participating restaurants, search Dine Out BostonLast day to participate is Friday, August 26th. 

*Dinner only.
** Lunch only,

Friday, August 19, 2016

Is 30 the New 25?

Boston’s streets should soon be a little safer and quieter thanks to Councilor Frank Baker and his colleagues. In April, Baker sponsored legislation that would allow the City to decrease speed limits and improve safety for drivers and pedestrians alike. The state legislature authorized the proposal last month, and Mayor Walsh says he supports lowering the general citywide speed limit to 25 miles per hour.
The Mayor and Transportation Commissioner Gina Fiandaca will work with the City Council over the next few months to finalize the proposal, with implementation expected by January 1, 2017. Lowering the default speed limit would support Boston’s Vision Zero goal of bringing the number of traffic deaths and serious injuries to zero by 2030. Research shows that pedestrians struck by drivers going 25 mph are half as likely to be killed as those struck by drivers at 30 mph.

“We need to eliminate traffic fatalities on the city’s streets, and this is an important step in the right direction,” Baker said in April. Councilor Baker and the other members of the City Council will be working with the Mayor and the Boston Transportation Department to make that goal a reality. You can read more about the initiative here.

9th Annual Boston GreenFest

New England’s largest environmental music festival returns to City Hall Plaza today through Sunday for the 9th annual Boston GreenFest! It will be clear skies and sunshine all weekend, so make time to learn about the green innovations happening in your neighborhood, around the city, and all across the region!
Featuring a wide array of food, film, art, vendors, exhibitors, and live performances from throughout New England, the Boston GreenFest offers something for everybody. This year features a Showcase of Innovation, from green-themed apps to make life easier to tips on growing a mini-farm in your kitchen.

GreenFest also provides a window into the many ways Boston has made itself greener and more environmentally responsible. The City sponsored a Green Roofs demonstration on the eighth and ninth floors of City Hall, and it was the first city in the nation to require all large-scale projects to meet the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED certification standards.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Fort Point Happenings Starting Sunday

Update 8.14.16: Due to the forecast of scattered thunderstorms, the showing  of The Verdict is postponed. New date tba.

Fort Point Stage will be presenting a free outdoor screening of  The Verdict (1982) staring Paul Newman and Charlotte Rampling on:

Sunday August 14, 2016
8:00 PM
A Street Park

The movie filmed in Boston is about a lawyer who sees the chance to salvage his career and self-respect by taking a medical malpractice case to trial rather than settling. The Verdict received 5 Oscar Nominations and 5 Golden Globe nominations.

Bring chairs, blankets and snacks. Sagarino's will be open until 11 PM. If rain threatens, check the Fort Point Stage website  at 4pm or on twitter for a cancellation notice.

Denise Hajjar will be hosting Runway on the Greenway on Monday, August 15th (rain date August 22nd) at 6pm. The free fashion show will showcase the Greenway and entertain you with models, music, dancing and of course, fashion! The runway show starts at 6:45pm across from the Denise Hajjar Boutique (510 Atlantic Avenue) and ends at 7:30pm with a finale walk and a raffle drawing. The show features Denise's current collection and jewelry created specially for the show by Fort Point jeweler Dawna Davis.The models will be escorted back and forth by off-duty fireman. What is there not to like! More details.

General Electric headquarters development project will be the subject of two meetings next week:

Tuesday, August 16th: A joint Boston Civic Design Commission and Fort Point Landmarks meeting at 5pm at City Hall, room 937A. More details.

Wednesday, August 17th : Public Community Meeting at 6pm at Atlantic Wharf, Fort Point Room. This will be the first public/IAG meeting during which GE will discuss the GE Hadquarters project. More details.

Mark you calendars for future GE public meetings on September 7th and on September 21st from 6pm-7:30pm at Atlantic Wharf.

Craft Beer Cellar Fort Point Grand Opening event starts Wednesday, August 17th through Saturday, August 20th with tastings at 3pm and 5:30pm (Wed - Fri) and informal tastings all day Saturday. Free gift bags to the first 25 people at each tasting. Craft Beer Cellar is located at 34 Farnsworth St (former home of Yada Yaha). More tasty details.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Weed, Wine & Vines: Make Fort Point Shine

The Fort Point Neighborhood Association will be holding their third gardening event, Weed, Wine and Vines, on Tuesday, August 9th at 6 pm. 

This is a fun way to be outdoors, get a bit of exercise and visit with neighbors all while beautifying our neighborhood.

Gather at Wormwood Park (Wormwood & A Streets) and weed and clean the way to wine, cheese and other small plates afterwards in the park. 

Tools and gloves provided.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

10 Farnsworth Condo Construction To Begin

The construction of the residential condominiums coming to 10 Farnsworth (formerly known as 338 Congress) is scheduled to begin Saturday, August 6, 2016. 

Sea-Dar Construction will setup Jersey Barriers, detour pedestrians, and move the fence line out on Congress St (Saturday work to complete this activity was mandated by the city). By end of next week the site setup should be complete with isolated demolition, removal of asphalt and excavation. The following week pile drilling will start for about 4-6 weeks. Next stages will be excavation, foundations, and underground plumbing.

Please contact Sam Hawkins if you would like to receive construction updates such as utility work schedule for connections to be made in Farnsworth St and the passageway, and to be informed of any necessary road closures/detours.

Project Superintendent Mark Tedeschi will be on the site full time ( , 617-659-2565) or in case of emergency, you may call the Sea-Dar emergency line at 886-720-4576.

Boston City Council Looks At Grading Food Trucks, Cultural Council Grants, Plastic Bag Ban & More

City Council President Michelle Wu publishes notes from Boston City Council meetings. The Boston City Council considered these items and more at their August 3, 2016 meeting:

Appointments: Mayor Walsh made the following appointments:
  • Amy Yandle, as Interim Director of the Mayor’s Office of Tourism, Sports & Entertainment
  • Andrew Grace, as Boston’s Alternative Representative to the Metropolitan Area Planning Council
  • Compensation Advisory Board: William Sinnott, Carol Fulp and Amy Sheridan as re appointments and John Tobin as a new appointee until June 2021
Restaurant/Food Trucks Grades: Mayor Walsh filed an ordinance to implement a letter grading system for restaurants and food trucks based on health inspection results. The Inspectional Services Department would issue A, B, or C letter grades and conduct follow up inspections based on the grade, and establishments would face a $300 fine for not displaying the letter grade. The matter was sent to the Government Operations Committee for a hearing.

Boston Cultural Council Grants: We voted to approve an ordinance sponsored by Mayor Walsh to allow the Boston Cultural Council to accept grants on a rolling basis, rather than just once a year. This change will allow for more flexibility for both the Cultural Council and artists/arts and cultural organizations seeking financial support.

Charter Cap Resolution: The Council voted 11-2 (Councilors Campbell & Zakim in the minority) to support a resolution filed by Councilors Jackson and O’Malley opposing Question 2, the ballot initiative to raise the charter cap in Massachusetts. Councilors speaking against the ballot question pointed to budgetary concerns with lifting the cap and draining funding from struggling public schools. Councilors Campbell and Zakim both noted that they are personally undecided on the ballot question and therefore did not want to take a position through advancing a Council resolution. Every Councilor spoke about the need to improve access to quality school options across the board, including traditional public, charter, and parochial schools.

Plastic Bag Ban Working Group: The Council voted to pass Councilor Wu's order as Council President creating a 90-day working group, chaired by Councilor O’Malley, to study and propose opportunities to eliminate plastic bag pollution from Boston streets. Councilor O’Malley will name members to the working group, to include residents, business owners, advocates and Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space Austin Blackmon. Single-use plastic bags are harmful to the environment and contribute significantly to litter on our streets, in our trees, and in city storm drains. The goal of this working group is to formally broaden the conversation and return recommendations on an expedited timeline.

Tobacco Regulations: Councilors Jackson and Wu called for a hearing to discuss recent changes to the City’s tobacco regulations, specifically the partial ban on selling flavored tobacco products passed by the Boston Public Health Commission in December to take effect this month. The change was proposed to reduce youth access to tobacco and was paired with a regulation that increases the age of purchase from 18 to 21 years of age, which retailers support across the board. Convenience stores and neighborhood retail establishments are now prohibited from selling flavored tobacco, but smoke shops continue to be allowed to carry these products, creating inequity and impacts on local businesses. Unlike the Smokeless Tobacco ordinance proposed by Mayor Walsh and passed by the Council a few months ago, the flavored tobacco partial ban did not include a Council hearing process or vote. The matter was referred to the Committee on Women, Healthy Families and Communities for a hearing.

Budget Matters: Mayor Walsh filed several matters appropriating city budget funds – all were assigned to the Ways & Means Committee for public hearings
  1. Acceptance of a state law provision that allows municipalities to separately account for fees received under cable franchise agreements in support of public, educational, and governmental (PEG) access and using those funds to create a 21st Century Access Fund
  2. An order to reduce the City’s collective bargaining reserve by $2,783,841 to fund the FY16 agreement between BPS, the Bus Drivers Union and vendor Transdev
  3. An appropriation of $4M from the Surplus Property Fund to the Boston Housing Authority to sustain public safety staffing levels and fill the gap given the structural deficit in the BHA’s operating budget related to BHA public safety staffing (used to be funded by revenue from the Winthrop Square Garage, which has now been shut down for a number of years)
  4. An appropriation of $1.2M from the Parkman Fund to the Parks Department for the maintenance and improvement of Boston Common and Parks

Upcoming Hearings
  • Thursday, 8/4 at 5:30PM, BPD Body Camera Pilot (Public Safety & Criminal Justice) – Off-site at Mildred Ave Community Center, 5 Mildred Ave, Mattapan, MA
For complete notes on this meeting and prior Boston City Council meeting notes, visit or sign up to receive these notes automatically each week by email. 

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Power Station Redevelopment Opens Possibilities for South Boston

Redgate will be hosting two open houses to discuss the re-development of the L Street Power Station in South Boston on:

August 10, 2016 at 6:30 pm 
September 14, 2016 at 6:30 pm

Both meetings will be held at the Tynan School at 650  E. 4th Street.

In partnership with Hilco Global, which specializes in redeveloping industrial sites, Redgate purchased the 18 acre waterfront site of Exelon Corp.’s New Boston Generating Station this spring for $24.25 million, The site is located next to Boston Harbor's Reserved Channel at the corner of First and Summer Streets.  A mixed use development retaining historically significant elements is anticipated. 

The South Boston Arts Association (SBAA) is in active discussions with civic leaders as well as the new owners to specifically look at an Arts and Cultural Community Center on the first level. SBAA envisions a gallery, art workshops for children and seniors, a performance center for plays and concerts and a building which preserves history while shaping the future of South Boston. 

Learn more and share your ideas by attending either the summer or fall Open House.

Fort Point Channel Landmarks August 2016 Meeting


Thursday, 11 August 2016
5:30 PM
Boston City Hall – Piemonte Room (5th Floor)

After 5:30 pm, enter and exit City Hall at the Dock Square entrance on Congress Street
(across from Faneuil Hall).

Subject of the hearing will be applications for Certificates of Design Approval on the agenda below, review of architectural violations and such business as may come before the commission, in accordance with Ch. 772 of the Acts of 1975, as amended


5:30 PM
16.1756 FPC 326 A Street, Apt 6C
Applicant: Walter Adams, WBA Associates (Applicant)
Proposed Work: Remove ten non-historic windows at the third floor and install ten one-over-one, double-hung aluminum windows with a bronze anodized aluminum finish in non-compliance with the FPCLDC Standards & Criteria.

5:45 PM
16.1761 FPC 300 A Street
Applicant: Peter Dominski, MEPT Fort Point Creative LLC (Applicant)
Proposed Work: Install internally illuminated acrylic signage on the panels adjacent to the main entryway; install painted signage with external light fixtures at the third floor on the Necco Street and Necco Court elevations.

II. ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW / APPROVAL: In order to expedite the review process, the commission has delegated the approval of certain work items, such as those involving ordinary maintenance and repair, restoration or replacement, or which otherwise have a minimal impact on a building’s appearance, to the staff pending ratification at its monthly public hearing. Having been identified as meeting these eligibility criteria and all applicable guidelines, the following applications will be approved at this hearing:

17.144 FPC 5 & 6 Necco Court: Clean, remove biological growth and remove paint from the masonry façades; repoint; remove abandoned non-historic anchors from the masonry; replace deteriorated face brick in-kind; stone and concrete resurfacing; replace severely deteriorated sandstone with dutchman in-kind; remove the non-historic brick infill at window openings and replace all of the single and paired wood sashes and wood brick molds with aluminum single and paired two-over-two, fixed off-set sashes and extruded aluminum brick molds all detailed and finished to match the historic; installing temporary wood infill protection at select ground level openings; replace and restore where missing the copper cornice; replace the copper parapet coping cover in-kind; repair, replace where missing, and repaint all cast iron features and hoistway elements in-kind; restore bronze (Boston Wharf Co.) medallions in-kind; and repair and repaint the fire escapes in-kind.


6:15 PM 5 & 6 Necco Street
Applicant: Todd Dundon, Gensler (Architect)
Proposed Work: Construct an atrium between the two buildings and a connector bridge to a new building; construct rooftop additions; create new openings on the secondary façades; modify the window openings on the existing connector bridge; install spandrel glass at street level windows; modify the fire escape doors and landings; install large display windows within the hoistways; install signage; and create a waterfront plaza.


David Berarducci, Susan Goganian, John Karoff, Michele Yeeles, Vacancy
Alternates: B.K. Boley, Thomas Rodde

Friday, July 29, 2016

City Announces Early Voting Locations for Presidential Elections

You watched the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, now when do you vote? Hint: It is earlier than you think.

Last month, our district Councilor, Bill Linehan, sponsored a hearing to review election procedures for the upcoming 2016 presidential election. And last week, the Board of Election Commissioners unanimously approved the establishment of twenty-eight early voting sites across every Boston neighborhood.

Early voting sites for the November 8 election will be open from October 24 through November 4 at 5:00 PM. Residents can either vote at Boston City Hall during regular business hours (9 am - 5 pm) or at any of three early voting sites located in each City Council district from 2:00 through 8:00 PM. Voters can visit any site they find convenient. City Hall will also be open five evenings for early voting. 

On Saturday October 29,  there will be nine early voting locations open simultaneously in each city council district open from 12 p.m. until 6 p.m. Fort Point (district 2) votes at the Condon School (200 D. Street). 

 At the end of each day, all submitted ballots will be secured at a City Hall vault to be counted on Election Day itself.

You can view the early voting site locations and schedules online here.

Early voting was authorized by the Massachusetts legislature in 2014, and the City Council urged implementation as soon as possible. City Councilors secured $670,000 to support early voting through this year’s budget process, including funds for electronic polling books and a citywide marketing campaign to help spread the word. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

GE Foundation & MGH To Host Opioid Epidemic Hack-A-Thon

The GE Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), in partnership with the City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, to Host Hack-a-thon to Combat Opioid Epidemic:

  • September 9-11, 2016 at District Hall
  • 250 innovators across public health, engineering, business, and design to catalyze disruptive innovations addressing the opioid crisis
  • Prizes for the five most promising innovations, including a grand prize to accelerate implementation
  •  Event and implementation is supported by GE’s five-year, $50 million philanthropic commitment to the Greater Boston community

GE Foundation’s sponsorship of this event is part of its five-year, $50 million philanthropic commitment to the Boston community, $15 million of which will be dedicated to health efforts such as the hack-a-thon, increasing access to health for the underserved, particularly those patients requiring care for addictions and behavioral health, and increasing training for specialty care.

The hack-a-thon directly aligns with priorities around the opioid crisis and addiction medicine for both Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “We appreciate the efforts of GE Foundation and MGH to tackle this public health crisis and are hopeful that the innovations that come out of the hack-a-thon will make a significant impact and contribute to our fight to combat the opioid epidemic in our communities,” said Governor Baker. Mayor Walsh added, “Addiction is a devastating disease that impacts individuals, families and communities throughout Boston and the Commonwealth. To end this crisis, and the stigma of addiction, it is important that we work together to tackle the crisis on all fronts. GE Foundation is a welcome ally in combating the opioid crisis, and I believe together we can prevent suffering and save lives."

During the hack-a-thon, GE Foundation and MGH and will bring together a far-reaching and diverse group of 250 innovators across public health, engineering, business, and design to develop solutions to the opioid epidemic. The event will open with an Opioid Challenge Summit on Friday, September 9, providing a forum for clinical experts, thought leaders, policy makers, patients, families, and law enforcement to identify the greatest unmet needs and challenges in addiction and prevention. On Saturday, September 10, cross-disciplinary teams will rally around these challenges to create disruptive innovations in opioid addiction prevention, treatment and recovery. On Sunday, September 11, teams will make their final presentations to an expert panel of judges, who will give awards to the five most promising innovations. Teams will be supported for 90 days after the event, and, at the conclusion, the single most promising innovation will receive a grand prize to accelerate implementation.

Applications are now open to participate in the opioid hack-a-thon. To learn more, please visit Massachusetts General Hospital.

For continuing information on GE's move to Boston and their transformation into the world's largest digital industrial company, download GE Boston app available on Itunes and Andriod.