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Harborlights gets 5-year deal at new site

By Paul Langner

The Harborlights Pavilion, a summer concert venue on the waterfront, yesterday got a five-year reprieve from eviction and will be open at Wharf 8 beginning this year.

By the third year of the lease, according to an agreement shaped over the past five days and finished only an hour before it was announced at a downtown press conference, promoter Don Law has to start looking for another home.

The agreement comes after long and sometimes heated sessions among representatives of the Department of Environmental Protection, Boston shipping interests, the Boston Harbor Association, the Conservation Law Foundation, Don Law, and others. Negotiations were brokered by the Massachusetts Office of Dispute Resolution, said Arleen O'Donnell, assistant commissioner of the Bureau of Resource Protection.

Wharf 8 is immediately to the east of Jimmy's Harborside restaurant and just west of Drydock 4, an area destined for inclusion in the master plan to make the South Boston waterfront not only an industrial and commercial showpiece, but allow it to once again become a working port.

The area, long neglected as Boston lost its status as one of the nation's major ports, has in recent years seen a revival. Among the first stirrings have been the new World Trade Center fashioned from a once grim and grimy finger pier warehouse, and the new federal courthouse on Fan Pier.

Before granting the reprieve, the DEP was anxious to let Law and the Boston Redevelopment Authority know that the agreement is not only temporary, but that no one is to view the move as a precedent. Also, the agreement stipulates, the City of Boston must apply for a license from the DEP by Dec. 31 that would permit venues such as Harborlights in the Boston Marine Industrial Park.

In addition, there is to be no interference with water traffic, according to the agreement, and Law is to make efforts to reduce car traffic by encouraging pedestrian traffic and by looking into providing shuttle buses or similar expedients to the 5,000-seat facility.

The agreement also requires that concerts be held after 6 p.m. weekday nights, that Law's firm provide one event per season free of charge, that he kick in $200,000 for improvement to Wharf 8 and Drydock 4, and that Law and the BRA maintain berthing for A.C. Cruise Line ships and for two lobster boats at Wharf 8.

R.J. Lyman, an attorney with Goodwin, Procter & Hoar who represented Law at yesterday's press conference, said Harborlights will ''start immediately to look for a permanent home.'' He added that Law was confident of finding a permanent site.

''Several months ago we were told that we would not get approval even for a temporary location, and we got a temporary location,'' said Lyman. ''We are confident we will find a [permanent] site that's appropriate.''

The former Harborlights site was closed after last season to make room for a hotel-residential-office complex.

This story ran on page B05 of the Boston Globe on 02/12/99. ) Copyright 1999 Globe Newspaper Company.

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