Monday, February 25, 2019

FPNA February Gathering Features GE, Seaport World Trade Center & Neighborhood News

A Fort Point Seaport 
Neighborhood Gathering 

Tuesday, February 26, 2019
6 pm - 8 pm
Capital One Café
2nd floor, 57 Seaport Blvd.

Commonwealth Pier (Seaport World Trade Center)
Reactivation Project 
200 Seaport Boulevard
View Project Notification Filing

GE: An Update To The Neighborhood
Peter Cavanaugh, Ecosystem Transformation Leader
Jim McGaugh, Executive Director & Counsel, Government Affairs

 Neighborhood Updates & Discussion

Special thanks to Capital One Café for hosting.

originally posted 2.18.19

Boston City Council Looks At Election Reform, After Hours Construction, MBTA Better Buses & 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 February 13, 2019 meeting:

Elections Reform: The Council voted on two of the three proposals that Councilor Campbell had filed at the last Council meeting:
  • Length of Council Terms: The Council voted 11-2 (Councilor Zakim and I opposed) to advance a home-rule petition that would double the length of the Council terms, from 2 years to 4 years. Several Councilors had stated at the working session on Monday and on the Council floor today that having a longer term would strengthen the Council as a counterweight to the Mayor’s office, and it would save the City money by eliminating the need to run a citywide election in the non-Mayoral odd year. Councilor Zakim and I voted against this proposal because of concerns that it would raise the barriers for new candidates to challenge incumbents. Absent campaign finance reform, this would double the amount of time and number of years that incumbents could build up warchests and make it more difficult for a first-time candidate to raise the resources for a credible campaign. Many of the instances where new candidates successfully challenged incumbents have occurred in the non-Mayoral years, so we would effectively halve the opportunities for new candidates to join the Council (in fact, it has been 22 years since an incumbent Councilor was unseated in a Mayoral-year election; the four examples of challengers winning seats in the last 20 years have all happened in the off-years, which would be eliminated under this proposal). Finally, I believe that having a two-year term makes Councilors more accountable to constituents and pushes us to be the most nimble level of government. Certainly there are projects that require more than two years, but there are also many projects that move along more quickly because of that accountability. The proposal will need approval by the Mayor and state legislature to be implemented.
  • Running for Multiple Municipal Offices: The Council voted 12-1 (I opposed) to prohibit candidates from running for two municipal offices at the same time. The most recent example of this was when Councilor Yancey in 2013 ran simultaneously for Mayor and for re-election to the Council. Proponents believe that this will force candidates to make a choice about which office to pursue seriously. I voted for this when the Council passed this docket in April 2016, but believe that in this political moment, we should take every step to encourage more people to run, not restrict ballot access. This proposal will also need Mayoral and state legislative approval to be implemented.
  • At-Large Vacancy: We did not take a vote on this docket, which would change the rules to fill an At-Large vacancy from the current 5th place finisher taking the seat to a special election process similar to the way that vacant District Council seats are filled. Councilor Baker stood to say that he would have voted against this, because although he filed this docket in 2016, he would not want to disrespect Councilor Garrison today and how she earned her seat. The matter remains in committee.

Early Voting: The Council voted to pass a home-rule petition filed by Councilors Zakim, Janey & Campbell to implement early voting for municipal elections. Currently, the state law only requires and allows early voting for state elections, and Boston has seen early voting drive up turnout due to convenience and flexibility. The docket will require state approval to be implemented.

Corporate Tax Break Transparency: I filed an ordinance to increase corporate tax break transparency for incentives granted by the City. Residents should be able to easily access information about which companies are benefiting from corporate tax breaks in order to understand how much of a return Boston is getting on its investment. Massachusetts received the lowest score from Pew Foundation in 2017 for its evaluation of tax breaks, and Boston’s Tax Increment Financing Program received a score of zero in transparency from Good Jobs First, while other cities, such as New York and Austin, are providing their citizens with transparent databases that hold businesses accountable. Businesses receiving tax breaks should have to share basic information on the benefits they will provide the city, including number of jobs created with wages and benefits information. The matter was assigned to the Government Operations Committee for a hearing.

After-Hours Construction: Councilor Flynn called for a hearing to discuss construction and development issues outside standard permitted hours of 7am-6pm, including early morning, late evening, weekends and holidays. Particularly in the South End, community leaders have questioned the frequency of permits granted for after-hours and weekend construction for emergency and extraordinary circumstances. Residents in South Boston and Chinatown have highlighted concerns regarding security and safety in all phases of development at construction sites, damages to neighboring properties, the need for adherence to approved plans, and suitable rodent control. The current penalty for demolition, erection, alteration, or repair of any building outside of permitted hours without special approval is $300 for each offense. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development & Transportation for a hearing.

Voter Registration Information to all New Tenants: Councilor Zakim and I filed a hearing order to discuss providing voter registration information to all new tenants in Boston. Massachusetts allows eligible citizens to register to vote in person at a number of public facilities including city and town halls, via mail-in registration form, or online if the Registry of Motor Vehicles has their signature on file. 64% of Bostonians are currently renting their homes and apartments, and a number of municipalities around the country, including Seattle, Washington, and most recently St. Paul, Minnesota, have implemented ordinances requiring that landlords provide voter registration information to all new tenants upon the signing of a lease. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Civil Rights for a hearing.
MBTA Better Bus Project: I called for a hearing regarding the MBTA Better Bus Project, including the recently released 47 cost-neutral proposals to update and modernize existing routes. The Better Bus Project includes several components: continuous change, analysis, proposed near-term changes, multi-year investment strategy, and the Bus Network Redesign. These proposals are meant to lay the foundation for a bus network with more frequent, reliable service to provide better connectivity in Greater Boston. The City of Boston has a big role to play in working to advance the MBTA’s proposals, and I suggested today that the we could bundle this hearing order with the one previously filed by Councilor Essaibi-George and me on the City’s annual local assessment payment to the MBTA. Councilor Essaibi-George also noted that it would be important to add BPS bus transportation to the MBTA bus conversation. The matter was assigned to the Planning, Development and Transportation Committee for a hearing.

Appointments: The Mayor made the following appointments to the Zoning Board of Appeals:
  • Nadine Fallon as an alternate member until July 2021
  • Bruce Bickerstaff as a member until July 2021
  • Mark Fortune as a member until July 2021
  • Joseph Ruggiero as a new member until July 2021
  • Christine Araujo as a member until July 2021

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

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

MBTA Better Bus Project Coming To Roads Near You

Join the MBTA for a  Better Bus Project Open House and Community Meeting on:

Monday, February 25, 2019
anytime 6 pm to 8 pm
Tynan School 
650 E. Fourth St.
(accessible from bus routes 7, 9 and 11)

There are some proposed changes to the number 4 bus, the number 9 bus, and the Silver Line Route #2. Visit to view the proposals. The proposals include a description of each proposed change by route number, a map of the change, and the data supporting the change along with the trade offs. You can also sign up for project email alerts.

The MBTA will also have information on their Automated Fare Collection 2.0 and of a course, an opportunity to weigh in on the proposed fare increase. 

Can't make it to the meeting? Share your feedback at

Originally published 2.11.19

Friday, February 15, 2019

Trader Joe's Is Coming To Fort Point

updated 2/15/19 : Fort Point Channel Landmark District Commission approved Trader Joe's proposal for changes to the exterior of 44 Thomson Place.

It appears that the rumors of a Trader Joe's coming to Fort Point may be true.  Trader Joe's is on the tonight's agenda at Fort Point Channel Landmark District Commission. The location is 44 Thomson Place.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Parking Restrictions on A Street Effective Tomorrow

Road excavation work to extend an intermediate gas main down A Street is expected to start Friday, February 15, 2019. This work is a resumption of what had began last summer and was halted by the National Grid strike.  

A parking ban will in effect weekdays during the hours of 9:30 am to 3:30 pm.  Today no parking signs were posted at the corner of Binford Street & A Street to Wormwood Street.

The work route will continue down A Street to Melcher St and then turn on to Necco Street. The no parking permit is effective through March 8, 2019.

If you park on A Street or Melcher Street, keep an eye out for parking restrictions by block as the work progresses.

Fort Point Landmarks February 2019 Meeting Updated


Thursday, February 14, 2019
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.

I. Violations

303 Congress Street: Ratification of unapproved temporary banner signage

II. Design Review

APP # 19.479 FPC 63 Melcher Street
Applicant: Matt Frazier JSIP, 63 Melcher LLC
Proposed Work: Request for an extension of the temporary banners.

APP # 19.760 FPC 348 Congress
Applicant: Robert Tuttle Ne Neon Sign Co
Proposed Work: At front façade, relocate previously approved blade sign adjacent to front entrance (Previously Heard on 10/11/2018).

APP #  19.70 FPC 44 Thomson Place
Applicant: Andrew Tobias; Trader Joe's
Proposed Work: Reopen historic windows, relocate entrances, awnings. Install historic signage.

III. Administrative Review/Approval
APP # 19.769 FPC 250 Summer Street (adjacent)
Proposed Work: Modify the existing telecommunication antenna that was previously approved by Commission.


IV. Staff Updates


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

originally published 01/30/19

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

GE Innovation Point February 2019 Construction Update

GE Innovation Point is transforming as reconstruction continues along the Harborwalk as the weather permits, windows continue to be installed, lots of steel, roof work and expect to see the metal skin of the green pedestrian bridge removed along with other structural improvements. 

·         Pedestrian traffic has been relocated onto the first phase of the Harborwalk sidewalk.  The balance of the Harborwalk reconstruction, Phase 2, from the trailers to Necco Ct. is continuing as weather permits.  Overlook deck framing is complete, deck construction will continue as weather permits.  The Phase 2 harborwalk concrete sidewalk will be placed as weather conditions permit.  Temporary access to the dock is maintained daily.  Landscaping and certain plantings will be completed in the early spring of 2019 to meet planting season requirements. 

·         Temporary heating units have been installed and are providing heat through temporary ducts from both the west face and the east face of the buildings.  These units will remain in operation throughout the winter months.  Certain portions of the building are being wrapped or tented to allow masonry, concrete, and other construction to continue.  The openings in the building are being closed up on a permanent basis as work progresses.

·         Structural steel erection for the west building high roof, mechanical screen supports and 6th floor is complete.  Concrete has been placed on the 6th floor.  The concrete high roof deck slab will be placed on the west building during February, after which placement of the permanent roofing will commence.

·         Structural steel erection for the east building will complete in February.  The east building steel has been tied into the glass enclosure structure between the buildings.  The low roof steel and deck are in place, the high roof steel structure and mechanical screen supports above the low roof are being erected.   With completion of the low roof the new concrete block stair shaft masonry work in the northwest corner of the building is underway and will complete this month.  The northwest corner of the concrete decks on the 2nd through 5th floors of the east building are being prepared for concrete now that the stair shaft is above the low roof.   Preparations for placement of the low roof concrete deck are underway and will complete this month.  The placement of permanent roofing on the east building will commence once the concrete decks are placed. 

·         The crane continues to support the erection of the structural steel.  The current crawler crane will be removed from the site mid-February.  Mobile cranes will be used as additional equipment and materials need to be hoisted into the building.

·         Cutting and repointing of the exterior masonry façades is one of the activities that is temperature sensitive.   Cutting and repointing is continuing in the area that has been tented and heated between the buildings.  Washing of the masonry facades has been postponed until temperatures permit completion of this work. 

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

·         Window installation is continuing in both buildings.  Caulking and sealing around the new windows as well as placement of window trim is in progress and will continue. 

·         Rough-in of interior walls and interior masonry restoration is underway in the west building.  Mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection rough-in is continuing on the first 4 floors of the west building.  This will expand onto the 5th floor once the permanent roof is in place.  Rough in of the ductwork and piping risers in the west building core is complete.

·         Rough-in of interior walls and interior masonry restoration is underway in the east building.  The mezzanine level partitions are constructed with building infrastructure installation underway.  Electrical, mechanical and plumbing rough-in is continuing in the first 3 floors of the east building.  Rough in of the ductwork and piping risers is nearing completion in the core of the east building.  The passenger and freight elevator installation will begin in late February.

·         The new column for the Necco Ct. bridge has been placed.  The base of the column will be encased in concrete to protect it from vehicles.   Scaffolding erection on both sides of the Necco Ct. bridge to the full height of the bridge is underway and will complete in mid-February.   Removal of the existing metal panel skin will be performed first with structural improvements to the bridge steel following the removal.  Fabrication of structural steel, curtainwall and metal panels for the bridge reconstruction is underway.  Abatement of lead-based paint from structural members inside the bridge will continue in order to prepare the surfaces for welding.  GE and its contractors will continue to coordinate the work in Necco Ct. with Synergy. 

·         The final transformer has been placed in the transformer yard by Eversource.  The main electrical gear has been placed inside the main electrical room inside the building and is being prepared to receive permanent power.  Once all electrical gear testing and inspections are complete, Eversource will energize the permanent power to the building. 

·         National Grid will provide a permanent gas service connection to the buildings from Necco St.  This will require trenching in Necco St.  Tie-in is currently forecast to be performed this Spring pending final schedule from National Grid.

GE Innovation Point Construction updates occur about monthly in frequency or when there are major transitions in the construction process. Visit GE Reports to sign up for updates and to find the latest information or contact GE at

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

ByPass Road Pilot Update

MassDOT presented Roadways Improvement Projects occurring in Fort Point and the Seaport at FPNA's (Fort Point Neighborhood Association) January 29, 2019 neighborhood gathering.  Part of the presentation focused on the South Boston Bypass Road (SBBR) Pilot, which started October 15, 2018 and will conclude September 30, 2019.

Will the SBBR be open permanently to non commercial vehicles? Currently, the pilot only allows for a one year opening of the road to all vehicles.  Per the MEPA (Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act Office) Advisory Opinion/Approval, the pilot can only be operation for one year and must be competed on September 30, 2019.  Beginning October 1, 2019, the road must revert back to commercial vehicle use only. Once the pilot is completed and all vehicle data counts are processed, a report of the findings will be presented to Secretary Pollack.  The Secretary will determine if MassDOT will pursue permitting through the MEPA process to ask to have the commercial vehicle only use lifted.

Is there any update to report on the pilot? 
Vehicle count data has been taken for the first three months of the pilot on the bypass road and is as follows:
  • Inbound to South Boston from Frontage Road to Cypher/Richards Street – increase of 200 vehicles in the AM peak hour (8 am), increase of 95 vehicles in the PM peak hour (5 pm)
  • Inbound to South Boston from Cypher/Richards Street to Frontage Road – increase of 155 vehicles in the AM peak hour (8 am), increase of 90 vehicles in the PM peak hour (5 pm)
  • Inbound to South Boston from Frontage Road to Haul Road – increase of 1 minute and 10 seconds of travel time in the AM peak hour (8 am), increase of 39 seconds of travel time in the PM peak hour (5 pm).
The increase in traffic volumes is relatively low and is not having a significant impact to the commercial travel along the route. 

Counts will be taken again in March, and will include some specific intersections within South Boston

Might the pilot be expanded to bi-directional traffic? Due to the existing congestion on the Hegarty Overpass between the traffic signals at the North and Southbound Frontage Roads and approaching the South Bay interchange, there is no available lane capacity to increase the traffic in this direction. Allowing this movement may create significant queuing along the bypass road and increased travel time to access I-93. 

Community Feedback
As part of the commitment to MEPA during the pilot program, MassDOT is working to collect feedback on the use of the bypass road by the general public.  MassDOT is asking the public to reach out and provide any type of feedback on their experience using the roadway. Click here to provide feedback. MassDOT and the MEPA office will use all the feedback received as part of the analysis related to the future use of the South Boston Bypass Road.

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Boston City Council Looks At Reprecincting, Term Limits & Vacancies, CPA, MBTA Fees & 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 Februay 6, 2019 meeting: 

Equity in Cannabis Licensing: Councilor Janey filed an ordinance to promote and encourage equity in the newly created marijuana industry with full participation of residents from communities that have previously been disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition and enforcement and to positively impact those communities. The cannabis industry is already a multi-million dollar industry in Massachusetts, with early sales having generated almost $30M. The ordinance would create a new category of equity applicants, which would include companies with 51% or more ownership stake from 1) a person who has resided in an area of disproportionate impact for at least 5 of the past 10 years, 2) a Boston resident who has a past conviction for possession, sale, or trafficking of marijuana (or his/her child or spouse), 3) someone who has resided in Boston for at least the past 5 years, 4) someone who is of Black, African American, Hispanic, or Latino descent, OR 5) someone whose annual household income is below 400% of the federal poverty level. To date, no certified minority-owned businesses have been licensed by the state’s Cannabis Control Commission. The matter was assigned to the Government Operations committee for a hearing.

Reprecincting: Councilor Campbell and I filed an ordinance requiring a review of precincts every 5 years in Boston. All municipalities in the state except for Boston are required to undertake reprecincting every 10 years, redrawing boundary lines to equalize the population within wards and precincts. Because of Boston’s exemption, reprecincting has not happened in 90 years, and some precincts have several thousand voters, while others have just a few hundred. This leads to very long lines at certain polling locations where population has grown, and the Council previously passed a separate home-rule petition to subdivide the six largest precincts to improve voter access, which the Mayor has refiled this legislative cycle. Our proposed ordinance would require that the appropriate committee of the City Council conduct a review of city precincts every five years beginning in the year immediately following passage of this ordinance, taking into account population shifts; development in neighborhoods; impact of precinct size on polling locations, staffing, and election day operations; and other factors as necessary. The matter was assigned to the Government Operations committee for a hearing.

Terms of Office for City Councilor: Councilor Campbell filed a home-rule petition to increase the term of city councilors to four municipal years from two municipal years, similar to one that the Council passed in April 2016 but that was not approved by the State Legislature. Councilor Campbell stated that having a municipal election every two years where voter turnout is often low is burdensome for city resources, since a citywide election costs $800K to manage. Making the term of office for city councillors a four year term will reduce costs in having multiple elections. In the debate on this issue three years ago, proponents described the benefits as cost-savings, allowing Councilors to focus more on legislative work and less on campaigning, giving Councilors more freedom to take positions that challenge the status quo, and strengthening the Council as a counterbalance to the Mayor. My concern then (and why I was the lone opposition vote when it passed 12-1) remains true now: that this measure will strengthen incumbency and make it harder for new candidates to put together a credible campaign as incumbents will have an even longer period of time to build up campaign accounts would raise the barriers for newcomers. The matter was assigned to the Government Operations committee for a hearing.
Home Rule Petition Election Procedures: Councilor Campbell filed a home rule petition to restrict candidates from seeking nomination for two elected offices during the same municipal election. In 2013, Councilor Yancey collected signatures and ran for both Mayor and City Council; he ended up being reelected to the Council then. The matter was assigned to the Government Operations committee for a hearing.
Home Rule Petition Vacancy: Councilor Campbell filed a home-rule petition to change the process for filling a vacancy in the office of City Councilor At-large. Currently, the 5th place finisher in the last At-Large election becomes Councilor in the case of a vacancy (as Councilor Althea Garrison has after Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley’s swearing-in to Congress). The ordinance would change this so that a special election would take place, similar to the process for District Council vacancies. Councilor Garrison stood to oppose this change. The matter was assigned to the Government Operations Committee for a hearing.

Access to Charlie Card Pickup: Councilor Campbell filed a letter in support of increasing access to Charlie Card pickup in response to the MBTA’s plans to increase fares by an average of 6.3% and adopt a new automatic, cashless fare collection system. She noted that through a partnership with the MBTA, the City of Chelsea recently made Charlie Cards available to purchase preloaded with five dollars, or to pick up free of charge at Chelsea City Hall. Councilor Campbell offered support for a similar effort between the MBTA and the City of Boston to increase residents' access to Charlie Cards.
Fare-Free Transit: In case you missed it, I wrote an op-ed calling for a halt to fare increases and suggesting that the goal should be to increase ridership for economic mobility, equity, and climate justice. Fare-free transit would be the single biggest step we  could take toward those goals, and there are immediately feasible ways to get closer to that -- free MBTA passes for MA students and seniors, fare-free bus trips on routes where the majority of riders are low-income residents, and fare-capping rather than monthly passes. Read my whole op-ed here.

Vacant Residential Properties: Councilors Campbell, O'Malley, and Janey refiled a hearing order to discuss strategies to reduce and activate vacant residential properties in the City of Boston. Boston has roughly 1,251 city-owned vacant lots. There is limited information and no central database to indicate how many vacant properties in the city are privately owned. The lack of data creates a barrier for development and implementing solutions for utilizing these spaces. The Councilors described how other cities have explored financial disincentives including imposing a tax, or encouraging development with tax abatements with vacant properties. Others have created land banks to transform vacant parcels into parcels that are useful to the community. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Housing and Community Development for a hearing.

An Act to Sustain Community Preservation: The Council voted to adopt a resolution from Councilors Campbell and Flaherty in support of state legislation, An Act to Sustain Community Preservation, which would adjust the surcharge on fees for recording deeds to increase match-funding revenue as prescribed by the Community Preservation Act.

Upcoming Hearings (In the City Council Chamber unless otherwise noted. Watch Online
  • Friday, February 8th, 11am: Working session re: issues related to stray voltage (City, Neighborhood Services and Veterans & Military Affairs)
  • Our next City Council meeting will be on Wednesday, February 13, at 12pm.

Saturday, February 02, 2019

The Making Of Martin's Park: A February Update

This Martin’s Park update will fill you in what has been happening on site and what to look forward to over the winter. Even with the cold weather, the contractor has been making excellent progress and plans to continue working as weather allows. 

North Side Stone Scramble

On the north side of the park (closest to Seaport Blvd.):

  • The central retaining wall was poured.
  • Stepper stone installation has started. 
  • Additional locust posts were installed.
  • Underdrains were installed.
  • Water garden wood seating install has started. 

On the south side of the park (closest to the Children’s Museum):
South Side Play Area

  • 100% of geofoam has been installed.
  • All foundation work for major play elements has been completed. 
  • Log climber has been installed.
  • Swing has been installed. 
  • Slides have been installed. 
  • Cosmo climber has been installed.

General park:
  • Lightpole bases are 100% installed. 
  • 100% of major play elements are installed.


On the north side of the park (closest to Seaport Blvd.)
More stonework along hillside. 
Subgrade work for sidewalks. 
Continued work on wooden seating area at water garden. 
Fence post installation. 

On the south side of the park (closest to the Children’s Museum)
Mudslab around Cosmo climber.
Granite install on edges of slide area. 
Subgrade work for sidewalks. 
Fence post installation. 

General park
Granite deliveries will continue.
Fabrication of metal work.
Continued coordination with subcontractors to plan for spring planting installation.