Parks should be integral to all new development
Shirley Leung is on target in highlighting the one-time-only chance to expand the Fort Point neighborhood into a true destination waterfront for all (”Amid building boom, a battle for parks,” Page A1, March 7).
About 15 years ago, the city presided over creation of the Fort Point 100 Acres Master Plan, which legally set the height and density of new construction with a neighborhood parks network. Parks would not be negotiated on a project-by-project basis, but rather would be an integral part of all new development. This zoning plan remains in effect.
Meanwhile, Fort Point already is a neighborhood, with more than 2,000 existing residential units. In addition, under the 100 Acres plan, all new development must be one-third residential, including affordable and artist housing.
All of this is in stark contrast to the Seaport District when its development began.
We have a shot at creating the welcoming waterfront, complete with a network of parks, that has eluded Boston so far. Let’s follow the 100 Acres Master Plan and go for it.
The writer is a member of the Fort Point Neighborhood Association.
State lawmakers should make open space a real policy priority
Massachusetts Conservation Voters, a statewide advocacy group for public open space, applauds Shirley Leung’s call for abundant public parkland in conjunction with any future Fort Point Channel development.
The state Legislature can act now to protect existing public parkland. Article 97 of the Massachusetts Constitution guides municipalities and developers in the process of converting public parkland to another use. That process, spelled out in a policy directive overseen by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, needs a two-thirds vote of the Legislature for final approval. But before the vote, proponents must prove that a better alternative to taking a park does not exist and be able to replace the land taken with property of at least equal size and ecological value.
Because the requirements are set out in policy, not law, some proponents have tried to bypass the policy before filing the legislation, or not file legislation at all. Attempts have included slipping language into the annual state budget or filing bills to take parkland without going through all of the steps the policy prescribes.
The Public Lands Preservation Act, cosponsored by state Senator Jamie Eldridge and state Representative Ruth Balser, would codify the Energy and Environmental Affairs policy in state law. The decades-old bill passed the House last session, but not the Senate. Now refiled, the measure would require, in addition to the alternatives analysis and compensatory land, a public process prior to filing a conversion bill.
Had the Public Lands Preservation Act been a law in 2018, Waste Management would have had to publicize its plan to take 85 acres of Leominster State Forest to expand the Fitchburg-Westminster Landfill instead of quietly going to the Legislature. Thankfully, the public outcry from Massachusetts Conservation Voters, area residents, some legislators, and other advocacy groups killed the proposal, for now. I hope people will ask their legislators to pass the Public Lands Preservation Act this session in order to bring this process into daylight. The park they save may be their own.
Massachusetts Conservation Voters
2 acres in the shadow of towers? Gosh, thanks
Two acres of green space proposed in Fort Point, if the US Postal Service agrees to sell its property there, would seem to be such a wonderful gift from Related Beal — that is, until I discovered that Boston Common is 50 acres.
Boston shouldn’t settle for two acres overshadowed by buildings that will keep green from growing without extraordinary landscaping expense — a cost that probably will fall to taxpayers.
Susan W. Morris
Without a mass of inhabitants, you don’t have a city
Two acres of park space for the waterfront. Great idea. Better than parking lots. In fact, cover them over with parks or buildings.
Urban dwellers need urban parks. They will use them. But without a large mass of inhabitants, the parks will be looked at but not used as much as they could be.
Look at the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway. Except at the ends, where there are loads of people living, it’s just something pretty to look at. Still, better than what was there.
Take a leaf from Europe, which understands urban living. Without high-density, low-rise residential areas, you don’t have a city.