Comment Letter on 15 Necco Street, Notice of Project Change

Comment Letter on 15 Necco Street, Notice of Project Change

January 17, 2020

Director Brian Golden
One City Hall, 9th floor
Boston, MA 02201
Attn: Aisling Kerr

Secretary Kathleen Theoharides
100 Cambridge Street, 9th Floor
Boston, MA 02114
Attn: EOEEA 15547, Alex Strysky

Re: Comments on 15 Necco Street, Notice of Project Change

Dear Secretary Theoharides and Director Golden:

WalkBoston twice submitted comments on the plan for a GE Headquarters on this site. Ever since our first comment letter, our chief concerns have been related to serving the needs of pedestrians needing an accessible route to the site from South Station. We believe that the project proponent and the City of Boston should work together to address this issue, as transit and walking are the primary means of access to the proposed project. We applaud the lack of parking to be provided, but are concerned that the building will not be accessible to people using a wheelchair or needing an accessible path of travel. In 2020 this is not an acceptable situation for a building in the middle of Boston and within minutes of the South Station transportation hub.

For clarity, we have excerpted portions of our earlier comment letters below.

January 20, 2017 comment letter:

Accessible Routes to the Site: Comments 8.8, 8.9, 8.10 and 8.11 asked that the Proponent work with the City and with other property owners in the neighborhood to improve the walking route from South Station to the site via Summer Street, particularly for people with disabilities who will not be able to use the stairway that connects Summer Street to the Harborwalk and then to the main entrance of this project. The response provided in the EA was, “The Proponents cannot orchestrate improvements off the Project Site.”

WalkBoston’s comments were made because along the direct route from the Proponent’s main entrance to Summer Street there is no complete or accessible sidewalk. With a projected 70% mode share of walk and transit trips (which are thus also walking trips) this issue deserves careful attention.

September 30, 2016 comment letter:

1. Off-site approaches to the Necco Street site entrance – The existing walking route from Summer Street (and thus South Station) to the boundary of the site is difficult for persons with disabilities to travel. The proponent should take the lead in ensuring that walking improvements are made to this route. This may require significant coordination with the City and with neighboring landowners, but will result in improved access for all users of the neighborhood.

• There is no curb ramp provided from Dorchester Avenue onto the Summer Street Bridge (south/GE side of the bridge). A curb ramp should be provided.
• Accessible access to GE from Summer Street will need to be provided via Melcher Street. However, the sidewalk along the south side of Melcher Street appears to have an excessive cross slope that is hazardous for persons with disabilities, and difficult for anyone pushing a stroller or pulling a suitcase. This cross slope will need to be fixed.

2. Winter weather conditions and general maintenance

• Management and operations planning should ensure good snow clearance between the site and South Station along the Harborwalk and the sidewalks of Necco and Melcher Streets. The proponent should work with adjacent property owners and business associations to assure good access to its site under winter weather conditions.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment again on this project. We look forward to working with the proponent and the City to resolve the accessibility issues.


Wendy Landman
Senior Policy Advisor

Cc        Kristen McCosh Commissioner, Boston Commission for Persons with Disabilities
Chris Osgood, Boston Chief of Streets

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