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We are disappointed that Mayor Wu is perpetuating the BPDA’s messaging over what hundreds of us have told her about the process and our concerns about the PLAN. Just this week, she commented on PLAN: Charlestown in an interview on Boston Public Radio. Here is a link to the full question and answer: 


A question was posed by anonymous text at minute 42:30.


See our response below. 


Marjory: “This is from a resident of Charlestown. This person says, Mayor Wu as you know the Boston Planning and Development Agency has approved PLAN: Charlestown, a 30 year plan for the neighborhood opposed by thousands of residents of the neighborhood, Two City Councilors and a State Representative. This person is complaining that they don’t think… community input was ignored, many of us voted for you in part because you promised to eliminate the BPDA.” 


Mayor Wu: We inherited four multi-year neighborhood planning processes, Charlestown, Mattapan, East Boston and Downtown. We as a city and as a planning effort are actually moving away from neighborhood scale planning, it’s not at the right scale to be impactful and it doesn’t respond most effectively to what resident’s concerns are anyway and so we’re actually,  after these four we are basically shifting to what’s called our squares and streets approach and just gonna be focused on major corridors rather than an entire neighborhood with many many different uses and needs all woven together. But we did want to make sure that the efforts of, in some cases four or five years, that were put into each of these four plans did come to some resolution. 


In Charlestown, there are basically two parts of this, there’s a historic residential core which we through this plan have put strict protections on and I think that was something that has been called for and very important to the neighborhood as Boston’s oldest neighborhood, and to preserve some of that, and in the outer lying areas where there’s right now either blank space, or parking lots or industrial uses, to be thoughtful about how the growth there could actually boost affordable housing, boost access to jobs, and fit in with everything else.


There were multiple changes made at the end of the planning process in response to resident feedback. People were concerned for example about the Bunker Hill Mall, and how high that would be, and that was amended specifically in response to that as well some other areas where the height was different or some other changes were made. But we hear loud and clear that there is a need for more open space in all of our neighborhoods, more housing and affordability, and in my perspective, and I think what I promised the residents of Boston in campaigning around reforming the development process is that we need predictable rules rather than saying we can’t come to agreement on a plan, across-the-board and therefore let’s just let it continue to be the wild wild west with individual projects, proposed, and then see if they know enough, people or can arrange enough of a deal to get through their individual permits, we need some sort of plan to operate off of and so that has been put in place. Individual projects will still have their particular review in the ways that trigger that review for the largest buildings, but this plan was adjusted in response to community feedback, and in general, we are going to continue making sure that the components the community most demanded around open space and historic preservation, that there are resources for that.


Charlestown Preservation Society: Mayor Wu, we respectfully disagree. 


PLAN: Charlestown (as you call it “neighborhood scale planning”) will be incredibly impactful on our small community. An 80% increase in population, no room to expand our transportation

capacity, and a transit authority that cannot adequately support its current ridership is a recipe

for disaster.


We share your vision to build communities, boost affordable housing, create access to jobs all

within development that “fits in” with everything else. This is why we participated in the process,

every step of the way, to promote responsible development. We thought that we were engaging

in good faith conversations about what benefits our community and what does not. We thought

the BPDA would share our commitment to open dialogue and respect for the needs of both the

existing Charlestown residents and future residents, but they do not.


Inherited or not, this project now belongs to you, your administration, and your BPDA. We

worked tirelessly to get in touch with you. We have called your office, emailed your team,

attended your community events. We have been here, on board, and ready to continue open

productive dialogue, but instead, our voices were ignored by your Administration’s final “vision”

for Charlestown that was shared publicly just a few months ago.


This is where you lost us. You lost us at “80% increase in population.” You lost us at “three

times an increase in density” and “building heights of 350’.” Not just because those building

heights will block our sunsets, light and air… not just because increased density lowers the

amount of green space and permeability which directly relates to climate resiliency planning, but

because the impacts of an increased population and their movement will increase capacity at

our “gateways” to 144% of capacity. This poses a threat to our already strained emergency

response systems, including egress routes, fire, police, and medical services. There is a glaring

absence of a comprehensive plan to ensure our safety and well-being.


Building heights were reduced incrementally by 10% in the Spring. However, that reduction did

nothing to reduce the future projections for capacity at our neighborhood gateways. Heights at

the Bunker Hill Mall were lowered only after they were doubled in the final draft. The Mall

heights were raised dramatically above anything that had been discussed, and despite public

outcry that the initial scenarios were even too high. By the way, the BPDA used the same trick

on Medford Street… but refused to reduce the building heights raised in the final draft to what

had been discussed throughout the process.


While we do care about historic preservation and open space, these goals, on their own, have

not been our highest “demand”. What we demand is a reasonable quality of life. We demand

that the City of Boston provide for our safety and only allow building maximums and populations

that our available resources can accommodate. We asked for more time because the BPDA has

not provided a reasonable response as to how the City of Boston will accommodate this growth

while improving our quality of life and safety.


Regarding historic preservation… the BPDA has already disregarded its own recommendations

for adaptive reuse of historic buildings by approving a development project that requires the

demolition of two historic buildings mere minutes after PLAN: Charlestown was approved. By

your own admission, preservation is important to the community. It is also important to the City

of Boston and the nation. We cannot trust that your administration can provide the resources

and protections around historic preservation that we fought so hard to have included in PLAN:



For these reasons, and many more. We are asking the Zoning Commission to DENY the zoning

changes sought to enable PLAN: Charlestown. The growth is not supported.


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