Tag: CommentLetter

Comments on L Street Power Station Redevelopment South Boston ENF/Expanded PNF

Comments on L Street Power Station Redevelopment South Boston ENF/Expanded PNF

July 7, 2017

Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Matthew A. Beaton
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA)
Attn: MEPA Office, Alex Strysky
100 Cambridge Street, Suite 900
Boston MA 02114

Brian Golden, Director
Boston Planning and Development Agency
Boston City Hall
Boston, MA 02201

Re: EEA No. 15692, L Street Power Station Redevelopment, South Boston
ENF/Expanded PNF

Dear Secretary Beaton and Director Golden:

WalkBoston is pleased to see the proposal for a mixed use development of the large South Boston waterfront site that will include the re-use of the historically and architecturally interesting L Street Power Station. Putting this portion of the City back into a productive use that invites public access is a positive change for the City and for South Boston.

The overall site design will help to integrate this large parcel into the neighborhood, and create new opportunities for people to walk from East 1st Street to the waterfront and help to link the residential portions of South Boston into the site which was long cut off from the community by fences and other obstructions. The partial extension of the local street network onto the site and between and around new buildings proposed for the site seems appropriate in scale. With sidewalks that are sufficiently wide and landscaped, both community residents and people living on-site will be served by the new connections.

Our comments below are focused on questions that we hope the proponent will respond to in subsequent filings about the project.

1. Waterside Pedestrian and Open Space Environment
We understand that the new dedicated harborside freight corridor that will connect Summer Street to Massport’s Conley Terminal and remove heavy truck traffic from East 1st Street will provide very important, and long-desired improvements to the South Boston neighborhood. But this shift will also present challenges; the new harborside route will place an access barrier and significant truck traffic (with its accompanying noise and air pollution) between the development site’s primary open space and the harbor.
We urge the developer to consider creative ways to mitigate the truck route’s impact on the
open space. This could include grade changes that place the open space higher than the truck route (Figure 3.5b may hint at this); landscaping that both masks and frames views,
soundscapes to mask truck noise, and the addition of viewing platforms that allow open space users to gain unimpeded views of the water. There may also be ways to capitalize on the site’s industrial past and on-going use through interpretive elements. WalkBoston is concerned that without such special treatment the open space will not be very attractive to the public.
If possible, the proponent might also explore with Massport whether it would be possible to
schedule truck traffic so that is interferes less with daytime and weekend use of the open space.

2. Encouragement of walking and walking-transit trips
At the direction of the City, the proponent has used South Boston adjusted trip generation rates to develop trip tables for walking/biking, transit and vehicles. However, the site is at a
significant distance from other land uses that would seem to justify such significant numbers of walking trips, and to suffer from overused bus lines and significant distances to the Red and Silver Lines. Figure 5-1 illustrate the 5 and 10-minute walking zones, neither of which include a great many retail, job and civic land uses.
We urge the proponent to develop mitigation measures to make the development a more
realistically mixed mode project. These could include such things as: subsidies to the MBTA to provide more frequent bus service, or creation or partnering with other South Boston
developments to provide shuttle services to the Silver and/or Red Lines.

3. Bicycle facilities
The proponent mentions that Boston has flagged both East 1st Street and Summer Street for
protected bicycle facilities, however Figure 3.5a shows an on-street bike lane.
We urge the proponent to work with the City, and perhaps provide funding for, separated
bicycle facilities on both East 1st Street and Summer Street. The distance of the site from transit and a mix of retail, job and civic facilities will make bicycling a more likely mode of off-site trips than walking.

We look forward to working with the City and Redgate as the project plans are developed in greater detail.


Wendy Landman
Executive Director

Cc Ralph Cox, Greg Bialecki, Megha Vadula, Redgate
Elizabeth Grob, VHB

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115 Winthrop Square PNF Comment Letter

115 Winthrop Square PNF Comment Letter

January 20, 2017

Casey Hines, Senior Project Manager
Boston Planning and Development Agency
Boston City Hall
One City Hall Square
Boston, MA 02201

Re: 115 Winthrop Square PNF

Dear Ms. Hines:

WalkBoston is Massachusetts’ leading pedestrian advocacy organization. We have reviewed the Project Notification Form for this project and believe that it will provide benefits to the economic strength and vitality of downtown Boston by replacing a dilapidated parking garage that has blighted the Winthrop Square neighborhood for decades. We also believe that there are several issues that require further evaluation and improvement.

1. The Great Hall that has been proposed has the potential to be an exciting gathering place that attracts people from both downtown and Boston’s neighborhoods. We urge that the Great Hall be open to the public 18 hours a day, 52 weeks a year and that it be given programming that goes well beyond a food and shopping court. The ground floor of the building (both as part of the Great Hall and also adjacent to the Great Hall) should have rooms and spaces for talking, working or observing. Programs to encourage use of the space will be essential. The proponent should clarify the plan for activating this space, including the types of programs and the agency or individuals who will be assigned the task of programming and managing the space. We urge the Proponent to provide a description of the mix of uses, the cost to users
(for events that are open to the public), and the anticipated intensity of programming that is to be provided in the Great Hall.

2. Because of its prominent, strategic location, the Great Hall will also be a walking connection between Federal and Devonshire Streets that adds to Downtown’s rich tradition of publicly accessible lanes and alleys. The balance between circulation space and usable public space should be carefully studied and described.

3. Wind studies of the building should identify its impacts on pedestrians using adjacent streets and sidewalks. Wind may also be a factor in the design of the Great Hall, where pedestrians and users of the space should be protected from gusts or periodic and protracted winds around the building.

4. Pedestrian scale lighting should be designed to enhance the usefulness and attractiveness of both interior and exterior portions of the building with attention to creation of a sense of place, traffic safety at street crossings and personal safety.

5. We urge the Proponent to explore building shapes, heights and orientations to reduce or eliminate shadow impacts on the Common and Public Garden.

6. We also urge the City and the Proponent to work with the many organizations and individuals who are deeply concerned that the project will set a precedent that allows shadow impacts on the Common and Public Garden. Prior to approval of the project, the City should describe permanent and binding protections for the Common and the Public Garden from further shadow impacts.

Thank you very much for your consideration of our comments.


Wendy Landman
Executive Director

Cc: Senator William Brownsberger
Senator Joseph Boncore
Representative Jay Livingstone
Representative Aaron Michlewitz
Representative Byron Rushing
City Council President Michelle Wu
Elizabeth Vizza, Friends of the Public Garden
Howard Kassler, Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay
Patricia Tully, Beacon Hill Civic Association
Greg Galer, Boston Preservation Alliance
Todd Lee, LightBoston
Kathleen MacNeil, Millennium Partners
Cindy Schlessinger, Epsilon Associates