Mr. James W. Hunt III
Chief of Environmental and Energy Services
Cabinet of The Honorable Mayor Thomas M. Menino
Trustee of The Boston Groundwater Trust
Boston City Hall
Boston, MA 02201

Dear Mr. Hunt,

Earlier this year, the Fort Point neighborhood of South Boston was excluded from the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s Groundwater Conservation Overlay District — an overlay planning map that includes Back Bay, the South End, Fenway, Chinatown, Beacon Hill and other established Boston neighborhoods. Problems to pilings caused by a falling water table have already begun to plague Fort Point’s historic neighborhood, troubling examples of which have been published in the Boston Globe and Boston Herald.

Unfortunately, most Fort Point property owners are unaware that Fort Point has been excluded from the City’s groundwater planning map. In recent weeks, the volunteer non-profit Citywide Groundwater Emergency Taskforce has been helpful in bringing this issue to our attention.

Rather than including Fort Point and the South Boston Waterfront along with other Boston neighborhoods in the City’s Groundwater Conservation Overlay District map, we understand that the BRA has proposed a further study of our neighborhood, monitoring a series of wells. We respectfully suggest that Fort Point is at a critical stage, where the proper action must directly address Fort Point’s declining groundwater table as in other Boston neighborhoods.

Please consider:

• In 2003, forty four (44) buildings were tentatively under agreement with Tishman Speyer Properties LP of New York for a reported purchase price of $400 million. The purchase allegedly fell through due to concerns regarding damage caused by the fallen water table [Land Deal in Peril, The Boston Globe, 11/5/2003]. Tishman Speyer was represented by former Boston Redevelopment Authority Director Thomas O’Brien. Mr. O’Brien may be able to provide further insight into Tishman Speyer’s reported concerns related to groundwater.

• Fort Point’s historic buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places, and in 2001, received unanimous vote for consideration by the Boston Landmarks Commission for eventual designation as a Landmarks District (a designation that is supported by the BRA). A consultant hired by the BLC concluded that Fort Point’s collection of historic buildings were clearly worthy of landmark recognition as a unique example of industrial-age architecture. [Holding the Fort, The Boston Globe, 3/28/2001]

• The Fort Point neighborhood and adjacent properties in the South Boston Waterfront are undergoing the most significant and rapid redevelopment in the history of the City of Boston. In fact, more development may be proposed in our surrounding area than in all the combined neighborhoods already included in the Groundwater Conservation Overlay District map. Large projects throughout Fort Point and the South Boston Waterfront will certainly impact the water table, and the brunt of these impacts will be borne by the historic buildings.

• The Fort Point neighborhood has already borne significant impacts of the Central Artery and MBTA construction, including the construction of the I-90 tunnel through the heart of the neighborhood, the MBTA Courthouse station, and the casting basin which temporarily removed a large portion of filled tidelands. CAT/Tunnel projects have reportedly caused a drop in the water table. [Big Dig, MBTA Construction said to put Buildings at Risk, The Boston Globe, 10/23/2004]

For these and other reasons, Fort Point must be included in the Groundwater Conservation Overlay District, joining Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Chinatown and other Boston neighborhoods. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Best regards,

Steve Hollinger, Resident
for Seaport Alliance for a Neighborhood Design (SAND)

CC: State Senator Jack Hart
The Honorable Mayor Thomas M. Menino
BRA Director Mark Maloney
BRA Director of Planning Kairos Shen
Boston City Council President Michael Flaherty
Boston City Councilor James Kelly
Boston City Councilor Brian Wallace
Ms. Ellen Lipsey, Boston Landmarks Commission
Ms. Joan Lancourt, Citywide GET
Board of Trustees, Fort Point Place
Board of Trustees, Dockside Place
Board of Trustees, Channel Center
Board of Trustees, Mondo Condo
249 A Street Co-op Board
300 Summer Street Board
Midway Studios Board
Mr. Neil Gordon, The Childrens Museum
Fort Point Arts Community, Inc. (FPAC)
Fort Point Neighborhood Alliance (FPNA)
Mr. Young Park, Berkeley Investments
Mr. Tony Goldman, Archon Group and Goldman Properties

Your comments as a visitor to the SAND website would be appreciated and forwarded for discussion.