Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Day 5: Harbor Planning Hearing

Today in class we discussed sustainability with respect to the striped bass. We discussed how sustainability is the goal of regulations, but compromise and disagreements about the right course of action make any real change difficult to achieve. We then discussed the reading on Voodoo Science and The Tragedy of the Commons. I felt that the Voodoo Science chapter was easily understood and helped to convey the importance of peer review in scientific studies, and fraud usually is the result of skipping this important step. The reading about the Tragedy of the Commons was more difficult to understand, but after we discussed it in class I was able to understand the core concept: that people cannot figure out how to act in the interest of the common because people are more inclined to act in their own self-interest; therefore we all lose. The writer contends that the two ways to get people to act in ways that are not in their own self-interest are through education and legislation. The striped bass’ numbers got very low because it had not been regulated, but now the population is looking to be more sustainable.

After class we went to the Downtown Waterfront Municipal Harbor Planning Advisory Committee meeting. We heard presentations concerning the future of The Marriott Long Wharf, the Long Wharf (the public area), and the New England Aquarium. It was nice to see how many busy people care so much about the future of the Boston Harbor that they were able to make a meeting in the early afternoon on a Wednesday. The presentations were given and people were able to ask questions and to voice their concerns. The first presentation was from Yanni Tsipis, the Senior Vice President of Colliers International who was advocating for the Marriott Long Wharf activation Project. I personally found his presentation to be interesting because he gave a lot of historical background on the Long Wharf, beginning around the time of the Second World War. I had always thought the Marriott had an interesting design, which I attributed to an architect’s unique vision; however, the building was specifically designed in that way for security. Apparently, the Long Wharf was a “gritty” area, so the Marriott was designed to provide “interior safety from outside dangers” in the sketchy area. The presentation by Dick Mulligan seemed to be more vague than the preceding one, but he, too, spoke about trying to open up the Long Wharf area so it could be more easily accessed by the public and help tourism in the area. The last presentation on the proposed renovations for the aquarium seemed like it would also contribute to the aesthetics of the area; however, it would cost between $25 and $30 million. I feel that the open forum for the planning meetings helps to keep the public aware of what is happening in their community and also provides an easily accessible way to ask questions and voice their concerns. 

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