More waterfront dialogue

The turnout at two midsummer meetings last week demonstrates the high level of interest throughout Boston in the city's Municipal Harbor Plan. Bob Durand, the state environmental secretary, would be wise to hold at least one more session before he rules on the merits of the plan this fall.

Durand also has the power to extend the comment period on the plan beyond Sept. 15. (We stated erroneously in an editorial Wednesday that the City of Boston has that authority.) He should allow further comments at least through the middle of October. By then, more interested Bostonians will have returned from vacations and will have had time to evaluate the results of a transportation summit Durand is convening in mid-September to assess how much development the South Boston waterfront can sustain, given its limited transportation capacity.

Participants at the two hearings this week focused on the long-range impact of the Municipal Harbor Plan. It would supersede state environmental regulations and determine the shape of development along this section of waterfront. If the plan does not properly balance private profit and the public's right to waterfront access, Bostonians will be regretting it well into the next century.

Durand is not an urban planner. He should not be expected to outline a development plan. But because he is an impartial arbiter of opinions, further hearings will illuminate the great division over the future of the waterfront. The BRA staff and the developers consider a dense project essential to generate the intense urban activity that will enliven the waterfront. Others - ranging from open-space advocates to supporters of affordable housing - want something more than the hotels, offices, condominiums, and limited public amenities offered so far by the developers. We on this page join the advocates in seeking to ensure that the waterfront is welcoming to all Bostonians, not just those who can afford to live, work, or book a hotel room there.

Further discussion of this fundamental issue will produce a better plan by the BRA. The dialogue about the future of the South Boston waterfront should continue well into the fall.

This story ran on page F6 of the Boston Globe on 8/13/2000.
© Copyright 2000 Globe Newspaper Company.

Political Capital
By Globe Staff, 8/13/2000

Heeding advice apparently a tall order

The Boston Redevelopment Authority has faced criticism from the City Council and the Conservation Law Foundation for failing to heed the recommendations of its own consultants to keep heights of new buildings along the South Boston Waterfront as low as possible. And, perhaps more irksome, while the authority tossed aside the advice from the consultants, Cooper, Robertson, and Partners of New York, they paid them handsomely: $400,000.

Glen Johnson, Joanna Weiss, Stephanie Ebbert, Michael Rezendes, Stephen Kurkjian, Steven Wilmsen, and Carolyn Ryan, all of the Globe Staff, contributed to this report.

This story ran on page B4 of the Boston Globe on 8/13/2000.
© Copyright 2000 Globe Newspaper Company.

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