Thursday, December 27, 2018

Time To Gear Up For New Year's Celebrations

Celebrate New Year's in and around the neighborhood. 

Boston Harbor Now invites you to the sixth annual New Year's Eve on the Waterfront. Filled with family friendly activities including a Harbor Map Tour at the Boston Harbor Hotel, Touch-a-Truck with First Responders at the Envoy Hotel, a Ice Sculpture Stroll and for the big kids midnight fireworks. 

This year's ice sculpture stroll will transform the Downtown and South Boston Waterfront and Harborwalk into a magical, winter wonderland come Monday, December 31st. Stroll hours are 1 pm to  4 pm. Visit all 16 ice sculptures and take selfies to enter in a Waterfront 'Staycation' Giveaway Contest. Download the official Waterfront Ice Sculpture and Fireworks Map (PDF) and use the included coupon for all-day discounted parking ($20.19) for New Year's Eve at the Boston Harbor Garage (270 Atlantic Avenue).

Ring in the year watching fireworks at midnight over the Boston Harbor. The fireworks are generously sponsored by Boston Harbor Now, City of Boston, Friends of Christopher Columbus Park and the Wharf District Council. Suggested viewing locations are: Fan Pier, Christopher Columbus Park and the East Boston Harborwalk.

The L Street Brownies continue in the footsteps of thousands before them over the last one hundred years by taking the plunge into the Boston Harbor on New Year's day. The event starts at 9 am on Tuesday, January 1, 2019 at  the L Street Bathhouse. Meet up with your neighbors first at the L Street Tavern at 8 am and enjoy a personal escort by 103rd Postal Fire Column Pipes and Drums to the plunge. Spectators welcome. For helpful information visit Caught In Southie

If diving into freezing water is not your thing, Murphy Memorial Rink in South Boston will be holding free public skating hours on New Year’s Day from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.  

However you celebrate the New Year whether it be in Fort Point, the Seaport or from afar, FPNA (Fort Point Neighborhood Association) wishes you, our neighbors and friends, a very Happy New Year.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Boston City Council Looks At Transportation, Early Education, Marijuana Facilties & More

City Councilor-At-Large Michelle Wu publishes notes from Boston City Council meetings. The Boston City Council considered the following items and more at their November 28th, December 5th, and December 12, 2018 meetings (last meeting of the year due to scheduling conflicts):

Boston Youth Transportation Project: I filed a report on the results of a summer research initiative undertaken by my office called the Boston Youth Transportation Project, which surveyed nearly 300 Boston high school students to understand specific transportation challenges that our youth face. We often discuss transportation from the perspective of employees and employers in the region, but it’s important to highlight just how much transportation challenges are shaping the lives of Boston youth. Cost, unreliability, and safety concerns result in create significant obstacles for youth as they seek to access educational, social, and economic opportunities. Moreover, transportation is one of the biggest source of greenhouse emissions, and increasing the efficiency and usage of public transportation, biking, and walking is an important part of combating climate change. The report found that youth prefer single-occupancy vehicles and may be likely to continue our transportation emissions, so we must improve the infrastructure needed for better public transportation and other multi-modal options. Read the full report.

Public Travel Infrastructure: The Council voted to follow Councilor Ciommo’s recommendation to approve the order to allocate $6.5M from the City’s Capital Grant Fund to address the impact of transportation network services on the City’s public travel infrastructure, such as municipal roads and bridges following a hearing on Monday.

Early Education and Childcare Policy Briefing Series: Councilor Pressley filed a report offering policy recommendations for improving access to early education and childcare for families in the city, following our 2017 policy briefing series convened by Councilors Campbell, Essaibi George, Pressley and myself. We examined barriers to access for affordable and quality early education and childcare across the city, especially when the Commonwealth is one of the most expensive places for childcare in the country. Our recommendations seek to improve access and equity in finding childcare, as well as recruiting and training a diverse workforce that will ensure quality in early childhood education programs. These include designating an official agency of early education and childcare and/or hire an early childcare advisor for the city; expanding the criteria and amount for federal and state childcare subsidies; expanding  access to licensed childcare facilities that open during nontraditional working hours; and more. You can read the full report.

Siting Recovery Facilities: Councilors Edwards, Essaibi George, and I reported back on yesterday’s hearing regarding the potential for regulations on the proximity of alcohol and cannabis establishments to recovery facilities. All agreed that the City must continue pushing toward implementation of the will of the voters in legalizing adult use marijuana while understanding the impacts that this new industry could have for equity and communities across the city. In particular, there is a proposal for a retail cannabis location in East Boston next door to a recovery facility for some of our most vulnerable residents managing dual diagnoses of substance use and mental illness. Several panels described the need for making sure that everyone has a voice in the process of setting up this industry, including those who have been directly affected by the opiate crisis. Watch public hearing.

Our next City Council meeting will be on Wednesday, January 9th, at 12pm. Happy holidays and see you in the New Year!

For complete notes on Boston City Council meetings, visit or sign up to receive these notes automatically. 

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Fort Point Landmarks December 2018 Meeting


Thursday, December 13, 2018
6:00 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.


APP # 19.575 FPC 44 Farnsworth
Applicant: Edward Pare Jr. Esq; AT&T Mobility Corporation 
Proposed Work: Modify existing 12 panel antennas affixed to the penthouse. Install 9 remote radio units, 3 surge arrestors, replace existing equipment. 

APP # 19.613 FPC 55 Thomson Place
Applicant: Bianka Cabrera; Outsystems 
Proposed Work: Install new roof deck.





David Berarducci, Susan Goganian, John Karoff, Lynn Smiledge, Vacancy 
Alternates: Thomas Rodde, Vacancy

Monday, December 03, 2018

Getting Festive Fort Point Style

Looking to get in the holiday spirit without leaving the neighborhood or going to a mall? The artists, restaurants and stores of Fort Point are offering numerous opportunities this week and weekend to bring you good cheer. 

The Friends of the Fort Point Channel's eighth annual Fort Point Holiday Stroll takes place Wednesday, December 5, 2018 from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm. Explore Fort Point restaurants, stores and pop-up shops such as an artist pop up at Mayhew Wine Shop. Enjoy local treats, drinks and holiday delights. Pick up a stroll map at anyone of the participating locations and enter the Friends' raffle. 
More than twenty artists at the 249 A Street Cooperative will open their doors for the 249 A Street Holiday Art Sale on Saturday, December 8, 2018 from 11 am to 5 pm. Find handmade gifts for the hardest to shop for on your list. All gifts are made by the artists at Fort Point's original artist studios. Shop in a relaxed studio setting, meet the artists, and enjoy complimentary refreshments. Free (including parking) and open to the public.  
Don't miss the ICA Holiday Market  for more gifts and live music this Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm at 25 Harbor Shore Drive. 

Mayor Walsh’s annual tree lighting starts at 12 pm on December 9, 2018 at Medal of Honor (M) Park. There will be goats, ponies, balloon animals, refreshments and more to celebrate the season. M Park is located at 800 East Broadway.  
Row 34 restaurant is helping you get festive each Sunday in December from 4 pm to 6 pm. Swing by for free small bites and bevvies while finding the perfect gifts made by local Fort Point artists for everyone on your list! Discover when you favorite art maker will be at Row 34 Holiday Pop-Up Shops.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Northern Avenue Bridge Community Meeting Announced

updated 11/27/18 with December Mayor's Advisory Task Force meeting (see bottom)

The City of Boston Public Works Department invites you to a Community Meeting regarding the Northern Avenue Bridge on:

Wednesday, November 28, 2018
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM 
6:00 PM Open House & 6:30 PM Presentation 
District Hall, Assembly Room 
75 Northern Avenue

Built in 1908, today’s Northern Avenue Bridge was in service for over a century, before it was closed in 2014. The City of Boston will be reconstructing this iconic span, reimagining it to improve mobility, honor history, strengthen resiliency and create a new destination along Boston’s shore. The City has convened a Mayoral Advisory Task Force to assist in designing and programming the new bridge. The City invites you to lend your voice and help build a bridge that meets the needs of Boston’s next century. 

The meeting will begin with an open house where participants can view project materials, learn more about the current bridge’s structural analysis, mobility evaluation, placemaking and design process, and speak with members of the Project Team. The presentation will begin at 6:30 PM, followed by time for Q+A. 

Please visit the Northern Avenue Bridge project website for more information: 

For project questions or comments, please email the project team.

For those attending the monthly Northern Avenue Bridge Mayor's Advisory Task Force meetings, the next meeting is December 12th at BSA's Fort Point Room (290 Congress St) from 4 pm to 5:30 pm. NOTE: new place & time.

originally published 11.14.18

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Boston City Council Looks At Artist Work Spaces, Early Voting, Civic Engagement & More

City Councilor-At-Large Michelle Wu publishes notes from Boston City Council meetings. The Boston City Council considered the following items and more at their October 24 and October 31 and November 7, 2018 meetings:

Appropriation Orders:
  • $6.5M from the City’s Capital Grant Fund to address the impact of transportation network services on the City’s public travel infrastructure, such as municipal roads and bridges. The matter was assigned to the Ways and Means Committee for a hearing.
  • $16,077 from the FY19 Collective Bargaining Reserve to fund the collective bargaining agreements between the Boston Public Schools and the AFSCME Council 92, Local 230A, which includes a 2% wage increase. [Passed]
  • Darlene Lombos was appointed as a member of the Living Wage Advisory Committee until March 2021
  • Bridget Brown was appointed as a member of the Boston Cultural Council for a term until October 2021
  • The Mayor appointed Jeffery Gonyeau as an alternate member of the Boston Landmarks Commission until June 2021, subject to Council confirmation. The matter was assigned to the Planning, Development & Transportation Committee for a hearing.
Make Boston Shine Fund: The Mayor filed an order to create a “Make Boston Shine Trust Fund” to promote civic engagement and community pride, and to support projects that will beautify our neighborhoods. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Ways & Means.

Early Voting: Councilors Zakim and Janey filed a Home Rule Petition to authorize the City of Boston to offer early voting in municipal elections. Currently, the state legislation for early voting only applies to state general elections, and we should have the same level of access in city elections. They noted that voter turnout was less than 28% during the 2017 Boston Municipal election, and an expanded voting window would increase access to the polls. The matter was assigned to the Government Operations Committee for a hearing.

Workspace for Artists: Councilors Essaibi-George and O’Malley filed a hearing order to discuss improving access to workspace for artists. Artists are an important part of the City’s economy, as there are 36,254 workers in the creative economy and jobs within the creative economy will expand in the next decade. However, artists need affordable workspaces to showcase their work and develop their careers, and currently there is no structure in place for artists to rent affordable workspaces. Artists have already displaced from Jamaica Plain’s Brookside Avenue, the Piano Factory in the South End, and several other locations. The matter was assigned to Arts, Culture, and Special Events Committee for a hearing.

Net Zero Carbon Requirements:  Councilor O’Malley filed a hearing order on the feasibility of requiring all new municipal buildings to be carbon neutral. Buildings contribute to over half of the greenhouse gas emissions, and the Council has already had several working sessions on the benefit of having net carbon zero requirements. Cities such as Cambridge, Portland, OR, and Santa Monica already established roadmaps to achieving net zero carbon in their municipal buildings. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Environment, Sustainability and Parks for a hearing.

Upcoming hearings (In the City Council Chamber unless otherwise noted.) Watch:

For complete notes on Boston City Council meetings, visit or sign up to receive these notes automatically. 

MassDOT Cypher Street Improvements Public Meeting

updated 11/20/18 with meeting presentation and meeting handout. Comment deadline extended to November 30, 2018. 

MassDOT invites the public to become fully acquainted with the proposed improvements to new Cypher Street, including Richards St, E Street and Fargo Street at a meeting on:  

Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Cypher Street Improvements Project
Meeting Handout
Meeting Presentation
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Condon School
200 D Street

All views and comments made at the meeting will be reviewed and considered to the maximum extent possible.


The project will include improvements for truck access to Massport’s Conley Terminal, and expand/improve multi-modal transportation connections through the corridor. The proposed work includes new sidewalks and pavement, street lighting, traffic signal systems, improved drainage, accessibility ramps and crosswalks, separated bike lanes, new pavement markings, signing and landscaping in accordance with current state and federal standards.

A secure right-of-way is necessary for this project. Acquisitions in fee and permanent or temporary easements may be required. MassDOT is responsible for acquiring all needed rights in private or public lands. MassDOT’s policy concerning land acquisitions will be discussed at this hearing.

Written views received by MassDOT subsequent to the date of this notice and up to five (5) days prior to the date of the meeting shall be displayed for public inspection and copying at the time and date listed above. Plans will be on display one-half hour before the hearing begins, with an engineer in attendance to answer questions regarding this project. 

Written statements and other exhibits in place of, or in addition to, oral statements made at the Public Hearing regarding the proposed undertaking are to be submitted to Patricia A. Leavenworth, P.E., Chief Engineer, MassDOT, 10 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116, Attention: Roadway Project Management, Project File No. 608807. Such submissions will also be accepted at the hearing. Mailed statements and exhibits intended for inclusion in the public hearing transcript must be postmarked within ten (10) business days of this Public Hearing. Project inquiries may be emailed.

This location is accessible to people with disabilities. MassDOT provides reasonable accommodations and/or language assistance free of charge upon request (including but not limited to interpreters in American Sign Language and languages other than English, open or closed captioning for videos, assistive listening devices and alternate material formats, such as audio tapes, Braille and large print), as available. For accommodation or language assistance, please contact MassDOT’s Chief Diversity and Civil Rights Officer by phone (857-368-8580), fax (857-368-0602), TTD/TTY (857-368-0603) or by email. Requests should be made as soon as possible prior to the meeting, and for more difficult to arrange services including sign-language, CART or language translation or interpretation, requests should be made at least ten (10) business days before the meeting.

originally published 11.6.18

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Three events. Two Places. One Night.

Looking for an evening of art, crafts and mingling? Look no further. The 249 A Street Artist Cooperative and the Society of Arts + Crafts invite you to be their guests the evening of Thursday, November 8, 2018.

The artists at 249 A Street Cooperative invite you to the closing reception of their annual group show on November 8th from 5 pm - 7 pm at the Gallery at 249 A. If you missed visiting 249 A Street during Fort Point Open Studios, here is your chance. The annual group show features works by the members of the cooperative and guest artists who exhibited during Open Studios. The show encompasses painting, drawing, photography, prints,  ceramics, mixed media, and sculpture. Be sure to mark your calendar for the Holiday Studio Sale on December 8th from 11 am to 5 pm.

The Society of Arts + Crafts invites you to the opening reception of Adorning Boston and Beyond: Contemporary Studio Jewelry Then + Now and Our Cups Runneth Over, the 6th biennial ceramic cups show and sale this Thursday, November 8th from 6 pm to 9 pm. Mingle with curators, artists and collectors during the opening of these two stunning exhibitions. Collectors will also be wearing their own pieces throughout the evening, and both curators will deliver short talks offering their perspective on the exhibitions. This will be an evening not to miss filled with art, craft and excellent company.  Save the dates, December 14- December 16, 2018, for CraftBoston at the Hynes Convention Center. The Society of Arts + Crafts is located at 100 Pier 4 in Suite 200. 

Fort Point Landmarks November 2018 Meeting


Thursday, November 8, 2018
6:00 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.


19.177 FPC: 63 Melcher St.
Applicant: Mike Barresi; Joint Ventures Physical Therapy
Proposed Work: At the comer of Melcher and A Street level 1, install temporary "coming soon" decals on two windows



David Berarducci, Susan Goganian, John Karoff, Lynn Smiledge, Vacancy 
Alternates: Thomas Rodde, Vacancy

Monday, November 05, 2018

Early Voting Is Back

Early voting is back starting Monday, October 22nd through November 2, 2018. Boston City Hall is the main early voting polling location. City Hall will be open for voting Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., during the two-week period. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, City Hall will stay open until 8 p.m. for early voting. 

On Saturday, October 27th & Sunday, October 28th the Condon School at 200 D. St. will be open from 10 am to 6 pm. 

There will also be early voting "pop-up" polling locations throughout the City on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Those locations will be open from 12 pm to 8 pm. 

Any registered voter may vote early at any location. Click on the voting map to find a convenient place.

On November 6th, the polls will be open from 7 am to 8 pm. Fort Point and Seaport residents vote at the Condon School located at 200 D St (off of West Broadway behind the Laboure Center).

Don't be surprised, click the sample ballot of candidates and ballot questions

Originally published 10.17.18

Thursday, November 01, 2018

"Water Levels" Closing Reception This Friday

Vital, powerful, and beautiful, water is a critical resource for everyday life. In Boston, a city so close to the ocean, rising sea levels provoke serious conversations on climate change and the future. 

"Water Levels", an FPAC member group show, considers water formally, conceptually, and thematically across a variety of mediums including photography, painting, drawing, works on paper, and sculpture. 

If you haven't seen "Water Levels" at the Fort Point Arts Community's (FPAC) new art space, Assemblage, you are in luck. FPAC invites you to join them for their closing reception this Friday, November 2, 2018 from 5 pm to 7 pm.  Assemblage is located at 70 Sleeper Street on the ground level of the Envoy Hotel across from the Barking Crab.

Monday, October 29, 2018

FPNA October 30 Gathering Features Climate Ready Fort Point & Seaport

Join the Fort Point Neighborhood Association
A Fort Point Seaport Neighborhood Gathering 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018
6 pm - 8 pm
Boston Children's Museum
308 Congress St (business entrance)
5th floor conference room


City of Boston's
Coastal Resilience (Climate Ready) Report
 Fort Point & Seaport 

Richard McGuinness & Chris Busch
Boston Planning & Development Agency

Alisha Pegan
Office of Environment, Energy & Open Space


Nick Armata
Boston Landmarks Commission


Amy Schofield
Boston Water & Sewer Commission

originally posted 10.17.18

Thursday, October 25, 2018

GE Innovation Point October 2018 Construction Update

In case you missed it, there is a lot going this October at GE's Innovation Point from advancements to the Harborwalk to the Fort Point Pier (GE public dock) to the historic NECCO buildings.

·         The first phase of the Harborwalk construction will complete this month with pedestrian traffic relocated onto the permanent sidewalk in the phase 1 area.  The sidewalk has been placed, and the loam is in place waiting for the plants to arrive and for the final transitions to the existing parking lot and bollards to be placed.   

·         The balance of the Harborwalk reconstruction, Phase 2, from the trailers to Necco Ct. began and will continue through the end of 2018.  The existing dock has been revised to meet the new sidewalk elevation and excavation is underway to grade the site for the new sidewalk.  Light foundations and foundations for the new overlooks will be constructed, followed by framing and deck construction.  The temporary walkway for that phase is in use.  Temporary access to the dock is also maintained daily.  Landscaping and certain plantings will be completed in the early spring of 2019 to meet planting season requirements of the plants. 

·         Structural steel for the glass enclosure connecting the two buildings has been erected.  Preparations are underway to place the concrete slab on the steel deck for the 2nd through 5th floors of the glass enclosure.

·         Structural steel work to construct the mezzanine level inside of the east building will commence this month. 

·         The masonry walls at the 5th floor of the west building are being modified to receive the new structural steel for the 6th floor and roof.  A temporary roof membrane has been placed on the 5th floor concrete slab to keep the balance of the building dry while the new roof structure is constructed.  Erection of the 6th floor steel and new roof steel has commenced with work on the columns to support the deck underway.

·         All concrete slabs in the west building have been placed.   The timber beams, girders and deck have been restored on all floors in the west building.  Rough-in of interior walls and completion of interior masonry restoration is underway.

·         The 1st floor deck slab was placed in the east building.  The old first floor has been removed and the column encasement is complete with preparations underway of the existing exterior masonry walls to receive the structural steel supporting the mezzanine level.

·         The placement of timber beams, girders and deck around the passenger elevator and freight elevator in the east building is continuing, tying the building masonry exterior back to the core in preparation for structural slabs to be placed on each floor of the east building.   The steel bracing for the exterior walls is in place and demolition of the existing masonry stair tower and old freight elevator shaft is underway and will continue for the rest of the month.

·         Initial electrical, mechanical and plumbing rough-in is nearly complete in the crawlspace of the west building and is underway in the crawlspace of the east building.  Construction of new ductwork and piping risers continues in the cores of both the west and east buildings. 

·         The pile cap for the new column to support the bridge across Necco Ct is complete and is protected by a temporary plywood enclosure.  Fabrication of materials for the bridge reconstruction is underway.

·         Cutting and repointing of the exterior masonry fa├žades continues on both buildings.  Repair and replacement of damaged brick is performed as part of the restoration process.  Mast climbers will continue to be moved around the building as the masonry restoration progresses.  Cutting and repointing of masonry will continue for a couple months.  Washing of the facades will be performed once the masonry restoration is completed after mortar has cured for the required duration.

·         The construction of the new large openings in the south and west faces of the first floor of the west building continues.   Once the opening is made, steel framing is placed supporting the existing masonry wall and then the masonry is reconstructed around the steel frame.  The work on the large openings will continue for a couple months. 

·         The preparation of existing window openings in both buildings is underway to restore masonry and provide the blocking necessary to receive the new windows.  Waterproofing and caulking is being placed in the masonry openings to prepare them to receive the windows.  Windows have been delivered to a nearby location off-site and are being staged for installation.

·         The crane is supporting the erection of the structural steel for the roof and the new 6th floor on the west building.  The crane also continues to support placement of timber beams and girders, demolition of the stair and elevator shaft and placement of the mechanical and plumbing risers.  The crane will remain on site through most of the 2018 construction season.

·         Waterproofing on the west side of the west building will be completed shortly and allow for construction of the balance of the transformer yard.  Once the remaining transformer yard retaining walls are completed the final transformer will be placed by Eversource to provide permanent power to the buildings.  In preparation for that, work on the main electrical room inside the building is underway.  GE and its contractors will continue to coordinate the work in Necco Ct. with Synergy.   

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Edison Power Plant Public Meeting With City & State Public Comment Opportunities

Last updated 10.16.18: A site walk will take place Saturday, October 20 from 9 am to 11 am. The next Edison Power Plant (776 Summer St) public meeting is October 24th 6pm to 8pm at Tynan School.  The meeting will focus on climate resilience & environmental issues. The October 10th Land Use Presentation is now linked.

The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) is hosting a community meeting regarding the Edison Power Plant on:

Monday, October 24, 2018
IAG Meeting 6 pm - 7 pm
Climate Resiliency & Environmental Issues 7 pm - 8:30 pm
Tynan School
640 E 4th Street

Monday, October 10, 2018
Land Use Presentation

Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Project Transportation Meeting Presentation
Proposed proponent funded bus service from site to Downtown via Seaport (page 27)

Wednesday, September 19, 2018 (new date)
Meeting Presentation 

The proposed redevelopment is approximately a 15.2-acre site located at 776 Summer Street in the South Boston neighborhood. The proposal entails approximately 1.93 million square feet of occupiable space, including: approximately 1,344 residential units, approximately 368,070 square feet of office uses, approximately 85,630 square feet of retail uses, 344 hotel rooms, and up 1,397 parking spaces. The proposal will also preserve several historic buildings on the site and provide 5.5 acres of new outdoor public spaces, including approximately 2.5 acres of open space on the waterfront. More information

BPDA Comment Deadline: October 30, 2018
Project Manager: Tim Czerwienski
Contact Tim with any questions or comments via email or at 617-918-5303

MEPA Comment Deadline for Environmental Impact Report Draft: October 30, 2018
To receive a copy of the EIR Draft Report, contact Seth Lattrell at 617-607-2973.

Related Posts

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Boston City Council Looks At Wetlands, Zoning, Winthrop Square Dollars, Recovery, Scooters & More

City Councilor-At-Large Michelle Wu publishes notes from Boston City Council meetings. The Boston City Council considered the following items and more at their October 3 and October 17, 2018 meetings:

Appointment: The Mayor appointed Kathleen Joyce as the Chair of the Boston Licensing Board, for a term expiring June 1, 2020. 

Zoning Code for Gross Floor Area: Councilors O’Malley and Baker filed a zoning text amendment that would redefine Gross Floor Area in the Boston Zoning Code to be measured from the interior of the wall, rather than the exterior. This would give developers more flexibility to have thicker walls with increased insulation in their buildings, making buildings more energy efficient and decreasing the buildings’ carbon footprint. The current zoning code defines the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) as the ratio of the gross floor area of a structure to the total area of the lot, and the Gross Floor Area as the sum of areas of the several floors of the structure as measured by the exterior faces of the wall, and so thicker walls count against the allowable development space. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development & Transportation. 

Car-Free Day: I called for a hearing to explore planning a Car-Free Day in Boston. Cities around the world have been joining together to encourage public transit, walking and bicycling and even shutting down streets to vehicular traffic on certain days for health, climate, and community benefit. When Paris hosted their first Car-Free Day in 2015, the city saw the level of certain pollutants drop by 40% and the noise level cut in half. The average Boston-area driver spends 60 hours a year in traffic, which not only frustrates commuters but impacts our environment and public health with emissions that contribute to climate change and pollution. Boston has seen very successful limited car-free initiatives such as Open Newbury, Circle the City, and block parties in every neighborhood. Streets and sidewalks comprise of 14% of public spaces controlled by the City, and we should explore ways that we can maximize those spaces for people as the City’s population increases. The matter was assigned to the Planning, Development, and Transportation Committee for a hearing.

Local Wetlands Protection Ordinance: I filed an ordinance in partnership with Councilor O’Malley aimed at strengthening the City’s ability to fight climate change and reasonably regulate development. The Local Wetlands Protection Ordinance would empower the Boston Conservation Commission to require green infrastructure with new development, including protections for urban wetlands and natural resource areas, and explicitly adopt climate change adaptation as a resource area value. These areas are important not just for conservation of open space and wildlife habitats, but to manage rain, flooding and heat. Especially in light of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report last week, with over 1,000 scientists over 2.5 years concluding that the world may have only twelve years left to keep greenhouse gas emissions below a threshold that keeps the planet livable, we must take every possible action to reduce energy demand, increase renewable energy supply, and transform our land use policies to align with climate change mitigation and adaptation. Boston is currently one of the only three coastal municipalities without such a municipal ordinance adding protections beyond the state baselines. The matter was assigned to the Government Operations Committee for a hearing.

Winthrop Square Proceeds: The Council voted to authorize a disbursement of $105.4 million dollars from the sale of the Winthrop Square garage parcel to Millennium Partners and , which recently closed. As designated earlier, this funding will be allocated as one-time funding supports for improvements and to create trusts for the Boston Common, Franklin Park, and the Greenway Conservancy, as well as the redevelopment of Boston Housing Authority’s Old Colony development in South Boston and Orient Heights development in East Boston. Here is the breakdown (including $1.6M from the FY19 capital budget)

  • $23M for Franklin Park improvements
  • $23M for Boston Common improvements
  • $11M for Emerald Necklace improvements
  • $15M for the creation of 3 trusts ($5M each for Boston Commo, Franklin Park, and the Greenway) whose interest will fund maintenance of these parks
  • $25M for the Old Colony Development
  • $10M for the Orient Heights Development

Siting Recovery Facilities: Councilors Edwards, McCarthy & Essaibi-George filed a hearing order to discuss regulations on the proximity of alcohol and cannabis establishments to recovery facilities. Currently there are regulations governing the proximity between these facilities and schools and on minimum distance from other cannabis establishments. The sponsors stated that the city should address how it can fairly encourage businesses while also protecting the public health of our residents. The matter was assigned to the Homelessness, Mental Health & Recovery Committee for a hearing. 

Dockless Mobility and Electric Scooters: Councilor O’Malley reported back on a hearing that I chaired on Monday regarding micromobility and dockless scooters. The technology allows for electric, motorized scooters that can travel up to 15mph with a goal of providing first- and last-mile connections to transit. At the hearing representatives from the City, micromobility companies and advocates discussed changes that would be needed to state law to authorize scooters. Boston is working on a regional pilot with our municipal partners in the bike share system (Cambridge, Brookline & Somerville) to launch a dockless scooter pilot, potentially next spring.

For complete notes on Boston City Council meetings, visit or sign up to receive these notes automatically.