Secretary Ellen Roy Herzfelder
Executive Office of Environmental Affairs
100 Cambridge Street, Suite 900
Boston, MA 02114
RE: EOEA No. 12433- Final Environmental Impact
Report and Chapter 91 License Application, Pier
4 Project, South Boston Waterfront
Dear Secretary Roy Herzfelder:
The Boston Harbor Association (TBHA), a non-profit, public interest
organization founded in 1973 to promote a clean, alive, and accessible
Boston Harbor, has reviewed the Final Environmental Impact Report and
Chapter 91 License Application for the Pier 4 Project on the South Boston
The Boston Harbor Association supports this mixed-use development,
consisting of retail, housing, office, hotel, and civic uses. We believe
that these uses, together with activation of the watersheet and the new open
space and HarborWalk areas, will help draw many more people to the water's
New England Development, the project proponent, met with TBHA's Board of
Trustees in September, 2004 to discuss this filing. A number of changes
from the Draft Environmental Impact Report were made in response to TBHA and
others' comments. We strongly support New England Development's
modifications to increase public activities along the east side of the
buildings; redesign of the residential building drop-off to dedicate more of
the Waterfront Plaza for pedestrians in order to reduce
pedestrian/automobile conflict; elimination of a detachable canopy over the
narrowest part of the HarborWalk; and refinement of plans for the one-acre
Waterfront Park at the end of the pier and the Waterfront Plaza. The project
proponent also proposes to contribute $1,900,300 for water transportation
activities at the site.
These changes and refinements are significant improvements, and we commend
the project proponent for working together with the public and regulatory
agencies to further enhance the project.
There are some remaining issues, including the following:
Civic space: The approved Municipal Harbor Plan requires, "To fully activate
the waterfront along Fan Pier and Pier 4 as a public destination, the MHP
now requires approximately 127,000 square feet of permanently dedicated
civic and cultural space in buildings along the water's edge" (page 9 of
Secretary's 6 December 2000 Decision on The City of Boston's South Boston
Waterfront District Municipal Harbor Plan). The Decision further notes that
"The City will also require an approximately 20,000 sf civic or cultural
facility, such as a maritime museum, on Pier 4... Any change from the
programmatic uses, precise square footage, or building location (provided a
total of 127,000 sf of civic/cultural space is provided in buildings along
the waterfront) described above shall require the City to certify to DEP,
prior to Chapter 91 licensing, that such use is consistent with public
principles arising out of the civic/cultural uses masterplanning process"
(page 28 of Secretary's 6 December 2000 Decision).
The 20,000 sf civic use is again proposed in the Final Environmental Impact
Report for the second floor of the office building closest to the street and
furthest from the end of the pier next to Waterfront Park. As stated in
TBHA's 2002 letter on the Draft Environmental Impact Report, locating a
civic use for the general public on the second floor of an office building
away from the water's edge will result in few visitors. Large office
buildings generally have significant ground-floor security designed to
screen visitors, and are generally not open on weekends, holidays, and
evenings when the general public is most likely to visit.
We reiterate our comments from two prior letters recommending that the civic
use be on the ground floor next to Pier 4 Waterfront Park, where it will
draw visitors to the end of the pier and where its presence will encourage
visitors to continue on the HarborWalk to Waterfront Park after they visit
the Institute of Contemporary Art next door.
For licensing purposes, until such time that the City of Boston completes
its civic/cultural uses masterplanning process with the required advisory
group involvement and certifies that any change is consistent with public
principles arising out of the civic/cultural uses masterplanning
process(page 28 of Secretary's Decision), the civic use should be permitted
on the first floor along the water's edge.
With regards to the "All Seasons Gathering Area," the project proponent
proposes to create a prominent passage to allow pedestrian access from the
Office Building to the Hotel. According to the Final Environmental Impact
Report, "In addition, the public pedestrian connection has been extended to
the Residential Building via an enclosed, above-ground promenade, providing
an all seasons pedestrian route from the Office Building to the Waterfront
Plaza and the Harborwalk" (page V-11).
As described and shown in the drawings, the "All Seasons Gathering Area"
appears to be an enhanced walkway and not a year-round destination for
visitors of the South Boston waterfront. During the Chapter 91 licensing
process, the project proponent should further refine plans for the "All
Seasons Gathering Area", taking advantage of the waterfront views and
providing a place for the public to celebrate Boston Harbor year-round.
In the Final Environmental Impact Report and Chapter 91 License Application,
the proponent indicates that "due to the poor economy of recent years and
the resulting adverse impacts to non-profit groups in the Boston area, the
Proponent has not received expressions of interest for use of the Civic
Space" (page V-12 of FEIR). It is not clear from the project proponent's
submission what discussions, if any, have been initiated by the proponent
with possible civic uses such as a maritime museum. It is also not clear
how the project proponent plans to work with the City's civic/cultural
masterplanning process. This should be further clarified during the Chapter
91 licensing process, along with specific deadlines to ensure the timely
opening of the civic use during the early phases of development.
HarborWalk and Pier 4 Harborfront Park: The Boston Harbor Association
believes that the Pier 4 Waterfront Park has the potential to be a signature
park along Boston Harbor. There continues, however, to be little detail
regarding the one-acre park, other than there will be some informational
exhibits, granite border surrounding the Great Lawn will be inscribed with
text of maritime and historic quotes, and space reserved for performances.
We ask that the proponent provide further information and detail about how
this space will be enliven with activity, given the narrow site
configuration and wind conditions at the end of the pier. We also ask that
the proponent think about ways in which the open space can be used at least
three, if not four, seasons of the year.
We commend the project proponent for removing the canopy over the narrowest
part of the HarborWalk on the east side to provide a greater sense of space
and views to the Harbor, and for agreeing to provide an interim park area
and interim HarborWalk as part of the phasing of the project. At a minimum,
we ask that the interim HarborWalk and park be completed within a year of
the issuance of the Secretary's Certificate.
Watersheet Activation: The project proponent proposes a "Pier 4 Water
Commons" along the southeastern edge of the pier nearest Seaport Boulevard,
with a water taxi landing and touch and go dock. Having these two
facilities closest to Seaport Boulevard make sense, and we support them at
We continue to question the location of public fishing, a fish and tackle
shop, and fish cleaning station at "Pier 4 Water Commons" next to the office
building (Figure II.2-3 of the FEIR shows public fishing from the middle of
a dock with water taxi landing and viewing devices closest to the water's
edge). Public fishing is most likely to occur at the end of the pier in
Waterfront Park, not next to Seaport Boulevard.
On another matter, The Boston Harbor Association is a member of the Port
Operators Group, chaired by Massport's Maritime Director and the Coast
Guard's Captain of the Port. At recent monthly meetings of the Group,
considerable concern has been raised about the proposed marina on the
eastern side of the site adjacent to Commonwealth Pier. The Massachusetts
Port Authority and the U.S. Coast Guard have raised navigational and
security concerns regarding the proposed location of the marina, including
potential conflicts with existing commercial and commuter boats at
Commonwealth Pier; impact of prop wash from tug boats at Commonwealth Pier
to recreational vessels moored along Pier 4; and the inability to maintain a
protective exclusion zone around Navy ships moored at Commonwealth Pier and
the proposed marina and required fairway. We ask that these concerns be
resolved during the Chapter 91 licensing process.
Coordinated Planning: We strongly urge that the project proponent continue
to work closely with its abutters on transportation and traffic issues;
promotion of water transportation, including how best to use the water
transportation subsidy from this project to further water transportation
options along the South Boston waterfront; promotion of retail uses in this
district; and programming of the open spaces and parks for greater public
use and enjoyment.
Thank you for your consideration.
Your comments as a visitor to the SAND website would be appreciated and forwarded for discussion.