Thursday, January 14, 2021

Fort Point Channel Operations Board 2021 Annual Meeting

The Fort Point Channel Operations Board will be holding their annual meeting via Zoom on:

Wednesday, January 27, 2021 
1:00 pm to 2:00 pm
Public is welcome to attend this free event.

The Agenda:

  • Recap of Atlantic Wharf 2019 Annual Plan
  • Presentation of Atlantic Wharf 2021 Annual Plan
  • 2021 Fort Point Channel Watersheet Activation Grant Program
  • Other Channel-wide Updates

What is the Fort Point Channel Watersheet Activation Plan? To determine how to take better advantage of the Fort Point Channel's potential, the BPDA initiated a watersheet planning process with the Fort Point Channel Working Group and Fort Point Channel Abutters Group, which involved area residents, business owners and stakeholders. 

The resulting Fort Point Channel Watersheet Activation Plan envisions the channel as a location for a wide range of water’s edge and floating public uses, including piers, docks and landings for cultural attractions, recreational boating and sightseeing. The Plan also endeavors to seamlessly balance these public uses with the existing water-dependent uses along the Channel, including the Gillette Company, Barking Crab and Hook Lobster, as well as advancing water transportation initiatives. 

The activation goals and elements of the Plan have informed Municipal Harbor Plans specific to the area as well as state Chapter 91 Waterways licensing of projects along the Channel. The Fort Point Channel Watersheet Activation Plan is an important part of the ongoing development plans of 15 Necco, 244-284 A Street and Hook Wharf (James Hook). 

Boston City Councils Looks at Elections, Appointments, Electronic Billboards, Traffic, Taxes & Much More

City Councilor-At-Large Michelle Wu publishes notes from Boston City Council meetings. Below are a few highlights from the first City Council Meeting of 2021, which includes refiles of Councilors’ priorities from the last year.

APPOINTMENTS 

  • Boston Redevelopment Authority Board: Michael P. Monahan as a member for a term expiring August 23, 2023.

  • Boston School Committee: Michael O'Neill as a member for a term expiring January 4, 2025. 

  • Boston Civic Design Commission: Andrea Leers, David Hacin, David Manfredi, Deneen Crosby, Eric Howler, Mikyoung Kim, Kirk Sykes, William Rawn, Jonathan Evans, Katherine Kottaridis, and Mimi Garza Love appointed as members.

  • Board of Examiners: Alexander MacLeod for a term expiring on July 1, 2023.

  • Nick Martin as Chief Communications Officer, effective December 14, 2020.

  • Barbara Parker as Director of Labor Relations and the Boston Public Schools Labor Office, effective November 17, 2020.

VETOES

Banning Credit Checks in Employment Processes: Mayor Walsh vetoed the ordinance introduced by Councilors Campbell and Janey to ban the use of credit checks during employment background checks as an inequitable barrier. His message detailed the Administration’s concern that the fine and enforcement structure outlined in the ordinance exceeds the City’s home rule authority as defined by state law. He recommended working through a home-rule petition instead to designate credit status as a protected class. The City Council may override mayoral vetoes with a two-thirds vote, meaning 9 members.

Restricting the Use of Chemical Crowd Control Agents and Kinetic Impact Projectiles: Mayor Walsh vetoed the ordinance introduced by Councilors Arroyo and Campbell to restrict the use of tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and other crowd control methods at public demonstrations.

VOTES

Resolution to Support Waiving MCAS: The Council voted to adopt a resolution filed by Councilor Essaibi-George in support of waiving MCAS in Spring of 2021. She stated that offering a standardized test during the ongoing pandemic would only be measuring privilege.

NEW FILES 

Waiving Potential Special Election: Councilor Arroyo filed a home-rule petition to waive the provision in the Boston City Charter to require a special election for Mayor if a vacancy occurs before March 5, 2021, to fill the rest of the term (in this case, through the end of the year). The sponsor stated that holding a special election during the pandemic would endanger the health of Boston residents, impact the financial future for the City, and contribute to existing inequities often seen in elections. Other colleagues spoke up to state their belief that the rules in the charter should not be changed in the middle of an election with various political interests before us. The matter was assigned for a hearing to the Committee on Government Operations.

COVID-19 Vaccines: Councilors Campbell and Arroyo called for a hearing regarding COVID-19 vaccines. Effective and equitable distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine to a large portion of the population is critical to ending the pandemic, and the City must develop strategies that will result in the most equitable outcome possible for communities of color. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Public Health.

Small Business Outreach & COVID-19: Councilors Mejia, Arroyo & I called for a hearing discussing the accessibility of small business outreach during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the COVID-19 recovery and moving forward, it is crucial to develop a more in-depth understanding of what “outreach” to Boston’s small businesses actually looks like, including quantifying the number of programs offered, engagement by neighborhood, and what languages are accommodated in these outreach spaces. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Small Business and Workforce Development.

Access for MBE to High-Volume Commercial Centers: Councilor Mejia called for a hearing to discuss addressing commercial segregation through focusing on access for minority business enterprises to the high-volume commercial centers such as the Seaport, Newbury Street, and Faneuil Hall marketplace. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Small Business and Workforce Development.

Public Hearings: Councilors Mejia and Edwards called for a hearing on public hearings as they relate to government accountability and accessibility. The ability to access public hearings is a crucial aspect of our constituency making their voices heard because they address issues which impact Bostonians from all across the city. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Rules and Administration.

Late Night T Service: Councilor Mejia & I refiled a hearing order on the status of Late-Night MBTA Service in Greater Boston. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development and Transportation.

Electronic Billboards: Councilors Flynn and Bok called for a hearing to discuss the proliferation of electronic billboards in the City of Boston. Electronic billboards have proliferated in Boston over the past several years, causing important safety and quality of life concerns for our residents.  The matter was assigned to the Committee on City and Neighborhood Services.

Traffic Plan in South Boston: Councilors Flynn and Flaherty called for a hearing to discuss establishing a traffic master plan for South Boston. With South Boston rapidly developing, transportation and congestion will remain a critical issue that will continue to affect both long-time and new South Boston residents, visitors, and commuter for years and decades to come, there should be a transportation Master Plan for South Boston to assess the neighborhood’s short, mid and long term transportation needs and capacity, so that the city and residents can understand the potential impact of upcoming developments and better plan for the neighborhood. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development and Transportation.

Property Tax Relief for Seniors: Councilor Flynn called for a hearing to discuss property taxes and assistance programs for seniors & long-term residents facing difficulties during COVID19. Seniors have been severely impacted by the pandemic, and during this difficult time, the city should do what it can to assist senior homeowners who are feeling additional financial strains due to COVID-19, including potentially doubling the exemption for seniors over a certain age while considering their income and evaluation. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Ways and Means.

Boston Groundwater Trust: Councilor Bok called for a hearing regarding potential zoning amendments to be proposed by the Boston Groundwater Trust. The Boston Groundwater Trust is a crucial steward of a shared public good, the groundwater levels on which the pile integrity of many buildings throughout the City of Boston depends. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development and Transportation.

UPCOMING HEARINGS (Streaming online): 

  • Our next City Council meeting will be on Wednesday, January 27th, at 12PM.

For complete notes of Boston City Council meetings, visit MichelleForBoston.com to sign up to receive Council Notes automatically.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Boston Civic Design Commission Expands To 13


The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) today announced the expansion of the Boston Civic Design Commission (BCDC) with the appointment of two additional members by Mayor Martin J. Walsh. Jonathan Evans of MASS Design Group and Mimi Garza Love of Utile will fill newly created positions, and Kathy Kottaridis of Historic Boston Inc. will replace the seat being vacated by the retirement of Paul McDonough as the member representing expertise in historic preservation. Read about the Commissioners

“By expanding the Boston Civic Design Commission, we are continuing to build on our work to create a more inclusive, equitable BPDA and City of Boston,” said BPDA Director Brian Golden. “I welcome Jonathan, Mimi, and Kathy, and look forward to the unique perspectives and experience they will bring to our work. I thank Paul McDonough for his many years of valuable service to the Commission and Boston’s built environment and public realm.” 

The expansion of the Commissioners from 11 to 13 will help bring new perspectives to the BCDC and responds to the ongoing pace of development in Boston by helping ensure that there is a quorum at all meetings. Under the change, at least seven of the 13 Commissioners must be professionals in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, or urban design. 

The BCDC, managed by the BPDA’s Urban Design Department, is charged with examining the aesthetics of proposed development projects and ensuring that the projects have a positive impact on Boston's public realm. This includes the review of large projects over 100,000 gross square feet, projects of special significance, civic projects, and district design guidelines. 

The BPDA held a public meeting on October 22, 2020 to discuss amending Article 28 of the Boston Zoning Code to expand the number of Commissioners, and the text amendment was approved by the BPDA Board in November 2020, and by the Boston Zoning Commission in December 2020. 

What You Want To Know To Start 2021

updated 1/13/21: Jan. 14th Fort Point Channel Landmark District Commission Meeting is cancelled.  

Welcome to the first full week of 2021. 

Here are a few things you might like to know:

Yesterday (1/5/21), Mayor Walsh extended Boston's modified reopening phase 2, step 2 for at least three more weeks until January 27, 2021 to help reduce the spread of COVID 19. 

If you have a Christmas tree and are looking for a free way to give it a new life, the City of Boston is offering free pickup on the first recycling day of this week and next week. The first recycling day of the week in Fort Point and Seaport appears to be Thursday. To be sure, check your recycling trash day. The tree must be ready by 6am and clear of ornaments, lights and tinsel in preparation for compost shredding. The compost will then be distributed to Boston Parks to help new plants grow.

There is a new electricity supplier in town through the City of Boston Community Choice Electricity Program. If you are an Eversource basic customer and do not opt out by Jan. 11, you will be automatically enrolled in the City program. Eversource will continue to bill you and deliver your electricity. You will see the supplier listed as Constellation NewEnergy, Inc.   If you already have an alternative electricity supplier, you will not be impacted; however, you may sign up for the City program if you wish. The City program does not guarantee a lower rate than Eversource. It does offer more renewable energy. If you have questions not answered on the Community Choice Electricity Program website, there are virtual office hours  on Tuesdays and Thursday 12pm - 1pm. through February 2, 2021.

The Return of Community Meetings   

Jan. 6 at 6pm: 776 Summer St (former Edison Power Plant site) Public Meeting. In case you missed the December meeting, you can find out more about this 15.2 acre mixed development and community benefits as the development team advances the plan development area (PDA) for approval.

Jan. 7 at 6pm: Hook Wharf (James Hook site) Impact Advisory Group Meeting, The public is welcome to attend to hear about the proposed hotel and restaurant with public realm and Harborwalk improvements.  

Jan. 12 at 5:30pm: Fort Point 100 Acres Open Space Concept Plan Virtual Open House to present the release of the draft plan for community feedback. The park designs and network is to strengthen connections to the waterfront, create a more resilient community and expand recreation, events, and green space public access. The project scope expanded to include complementary ground floor use recommendations for park visitors.

Jan. 12 at 6:00pm: Hook Wharf Public Meeting to review the Hook Wharf project and allow for more public engagement is cancelled due to the Mayor's State of the City. The meeting will be rescheduled. 

Jan. 12 at 7:30pm: Mayor Walsh's State of the City address will be broadcast on all major local networks as well as livestreamed on Boston.gov.

Jan. 13 at 6pm: Coastal Flood Resilience Zoning Overlay (CFROD) Public Meeting. The CFRZO provides new zoning definitions, dimensional and use standards for development projects to promote resilient design and better prepare new and existing buildings for future coastal storms and sea level rise. The meeting will include a presentation of the draft zoning article and overlay district, followed by Q&A and comments. 

Jan. 14 at 6pm: Fort Point Channel Landmark District Commission Public Meeting  is cancelled. 22 Boston Wharf Rd: At the roof level, construct a roof deck, egress stair and head house.

Jan. 15 at 10am: Coastal Flood Resilience Zoning Overlay (CFROD) Public Meeting. This meeting is a repeat of the one on Jan. 13th. 

Jan 26 at 6pm: Save the date for the FPNA Neighborhood Virtual Gathering. Any ideas or neighborhood concerns, please email FPNA

originally published 01.06.21

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation Grant Opportunity

The Seaport team at WS Development are reaching out to inform neighbors of the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC) Grant. Massachusetts based businesses could potentially benefit up to $75K in grant monies if eligible. This grant application closes on January 15th.

 

MGCC Program Overview

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has made an additional $668 million available to support businesses through new and existing programs. Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC) will target a portion of these funds to sectors experiencing the most significant economic hardship and a loss of revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Application Link:

 

Who Should Apply:

·    Restaurants, bars, caterers, and food trucks that collect and remit meals tax

·    Indoor Recreation or Entertainment Establishments

·    Indoor entertainment establishments (e.g. movie theaters, comedy clubs, performing arts venues/organizations)

·    Indoor recreation (e.g. arcades, bowling centers, pool/billiard halls, escape-the-rooms, trampoline parks, roller-skating rinks)

·    Indoor spectator sports venues

·    Other indoor recreation or entertainment venues

·    Gyms or Fitness Centers

·    Gyms, athletic clubs, exercise centers, health clubs

·    Sports facilities (e.g. tennis clubs, racquetball clubs, hockey rinks, swimming facilities)

·    Fitness instruction centers (e.g. aerobics, dance, yoga, karate, etc.)

·    Other gyms or fitness centers

·    Personal Services

·    Nail salons, barbershops, etc.

·    Independent pharmacies 

·    Event Support Companies - primary source (more than 50%) of revenue is event-related

·    Photography studios, videography studios, florists, limo services, event planning companies, event rentals, performers, convention and trade show organizations

·    Independent Retailers

·    Businesses with brick and mortar locations that collect and remit sales tax

 

 Who Should Not Apply:

To ensure that these limited funds get to the most severely impacted businesses, you SHOULD NOT APPLY if you:

·    are not showing an operating loss due to the coronavirus pandemic

·    have access to other sources of relief

·    have been able to continue to operate without significant financial distress

·    have adequate available reserves

·    larger companies that are better positioned to endure this economic downturn and COVID-19 related restrictions

 

Timeline:

12/31/2020 at 12:00 PM – Application opens.

01/15/2021 at 11:59 PM – Application closes.

  

Amount of Funding:

Businesses can receive up to $75,000 but capped at up to 3 months of operating expenses, as evidenced by 2019 Federal Tax Returns. Grant amounts will be considered for actual expenses for 2020 during the pandemic. Expenses can be considered since March 10, 2020, given that it does not exceed 3 months of operating expenses evidenced by 2019 Federal Tax Returns.

 

Award Process:

After the application period closes, Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC) will review all applications to determine eligibility. MGCC will award and disburse grants based upon eligibility criteria and preference prioritization.

 

Approved Use of Funds:

Employee payroll and benefit costs, mortgage interest, rent, utilities, and interest on other debt obligations.

·    The business will not apply the funds granted in response to this application to any expense that has been or will be covered by any other source of federal or state funding including, but not limited to, Paycheck Protection Program loans, Economic Injury Disaster Loans, Community Development Block Grants, or any other source of federal or state aid.

·    The business will collect and retain sufficient documentation to demonstrate that the expenses delineated in this application were incurred within the eligibility limits and established for the Sector-Specific Relief Grant Program. Documentation includes, but is not limited to, receipts, invoices, purchase orders, contracts, contemporaneous memoranda, or other relevant materials.

 

Non-Approved Use of Funds:

Major equipment purchases, purchase of real property, construction activities, business expansion, lobbying. Also, grantees must prevent the duplication of benefits, which means these grant funds may not be used to pay expenses if another source of financial aid has paid that same expense.

 

*If a person owns multiple businesses and submits an application for each business, MGCC may reserve the right to limit proceeds to a business owner.

**If your business successfully applied for and received a grant from MGCC’s previous grant programs, the same business location may not apply to this program.

 

 

Requirements:

·    Business must have a physical establishment in Massachusetts and be based in Massachusetts.

·    Business must be a for-profit entity (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, cooperative or LLC).

·    Business must be able to document a loss of income equal to or greater than requested assistance due to COVID-19 pandemic.

·    Business must be currently in operation or if not in operation must have an intent to reopen.

·    Business must have been established prior to 06/30/2019.

·    Business must be in good standing with the state and city/town:

·    Business must be current on all taxes due through 3/1/2020; and

·    Have active and valid state licenses/registrations, if applicable; and

·    Ineligible businesses:

·    Real estate rentals/sales businesses;

·    Businesses owned by persons under age 18;

·    Businesses that are chains (chains are defined as businesses not headquartered in Massachusetts with multiple locations);

·    Franchisees;

·    Liquor stores;

·    Lobbyists;

·    Cannabis-related businesses; or

·    Non-profit organizations

 

Required Documentation: 

·    A complete copy (all schedules) of your filed 2019 Federal Business Tax Return as submitted to the IRS. If you file Schedule C income, please upload that document in place of a Business Tax Return.

·    A complete copy (all schedules) of your filed 2019 Federal Personal Tax Returns as submitted to the IRS for each business owner with 20% or greater ownership

·    A copy of your License to Operate/Business License/Professional Certification, if applicable

·    Completed and signed IRS W-9 Form for your business

·    If your business is a LLC, Partnership or Corporation:

·    A copy of your Certificate of Good Standing from the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s office.

·    If your business is a Sole Proprietorship:

·    A copy of your Business Certificate (DBA) from the city/town in which your business operates

·    A copy of the business owner's valid photo identification (ID). This ID must match the business owner who is an authorized signer that signs this application. Please submit a photocopy of the front and back of the ID.

·    Examples include (submit one): State-issued driver's license/ID card, U.S. Passport book or card, or other valid, state or federal issued photo ID