Thursday, July 25, 2013

Public Hearing - Sarah Grose

Yesterday, we attended a public hearing about the land use plan of the long wharf of the Boston Harbor. The Marriott long wharf edge activation project is a proposal to recreate public areas around the harbor edge. The presentations discussed the history of the harbor, pointing out that in times past, the harbor has been known for its rather lackluster appearance, and hazardous fires. Because of this, it is especially time to recreate the harbor's image and make it beautiful and accessible for all. According to the Marriott proposal, with smaller incremental financial investments, the Marriott waterfront  could be made into an enjoyable space. They would make the area more transparent, with glass windows while adding a few "classy" establishments on the first floor, such as restaurants, cafes and shopping. They also propose to extend the Faneuil Hall market place to restore and better the harbor visitors experience.

The BRA, the company that owns some of this land is more focused on adding kiosks and a nicer sidewalk experience for the visitors. There are so many vendors already, but they would like to make it a more succinct, and less crowded so that people can walk freely by. Some people have been complaining of the homeless people that crowd certain areas of the harbor. Although there are resources for them to be taken care of (such as the emergency shelter, which comes regularly and picks them up) some people worry that if the boardwalk area is made into a park, or publicly accessible and enjoyable area, the homeless presence will increase.

255 State Street, which is owned by Pembroke Realty prides itself on the views the apartments have of the harbor. They want their portion of this project to consist of the preparation of rising tides. Although the buildings are fine now, they want to make sure in the future, with rising sea level, their buildings are secure.

The New England Aquarium has a proposal to revamp the aquarium in many ways including the plaza area, adding more art and creating a screen on the imax building. This proposal is for $25-$30 million. Overall, the project aims to "create a more unified and noticeable identity" for the aquarium and the surrounding area.

Going to this hearing was my first experience at a public event such as this. It was interesting to hear all the proposals, the reasons behind them etc. yet I found myself feeling political. Here were people talking about more money than I can imagine, to create a "public space to be enjoyed by all" yet when the public spoke (the man suggesting a park instead of retail and commerce), he wasn't given the time of day. As a public forum, I believe and hope that his opinion and any other public opinion is at least taken into consideration.

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