Category: Back Bay

Frances Appleton Pedestrian Bridge Across Storrow Opens to the Public

 

The $12.5 million Frances Appleton Pedestrian Bridge – a 230-foot-long, steel arch span that links Beacon Hill/Charles Circle to the Charles River Esplanade – is now open to the public.

The 14-foot-wide, 750-foot-long, multi-use bridge was constructed as part of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s (MassDOT) $300-million renovation of the Longfellow Bridge, which links Charles Circle in Boston to Central Square in Cambridge via the Charles Circle. The Appleton is a signature bridge in the City of Boston with its elegant steel arch span, as well as the first fully accessible, ADA pedestrian bridge over Storrow Drive.

The old, existing footbridge is slated for demolition within the next two weeks, according to Miguel Rosales, the architect for both the Appleton and Longfellow bridges, as well as president and founder of Boston-based Rosales  Partners.

 

“As the designer of the Appleton Pedestrian Bridge, I was thrilled to recently cross it for the first time,” Rosales wrote. “The beautiful bridge floats over the park with stunning views of the Charles River.   It is very light, visually pleasing and the first ADA accessible 14-feet wide link in the area.  The main arch soars over Storrow Drive with a single, elegant gesture, which is inspired by the historic arches of the adjacent Longfellow Bridge.

“I am looking forward to having the bridge fully completed including walking surface treatments, hardscape elements and landscaping including the addition of new shade trees in the next few months.  I am confident that Bostonians and visitors alike will enjoy using the innovative bridge for generations to come,” Rosales wrote.

Michael Nichols, executive director of the Esplanade Association, said, “We are excited that this breathtaking new footbridge has opened to make the Esplanade more accessible to visitors. Representatives from our organization advocated for this vital new connection from the early stages of the Longfellow Bridge restoration and we are so grateful to MassDOT, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, former State Rep. Marty Walz, current Rep. Jay Livingstone, Miguel Rosales of Rosales + Partners, and many other partners for their hard work to finally make the Fanny Appleton bridge a reality.”

DCR Commissioner Leo Roy said, “The Baker-Polito administration remains committed to providing residents and visitors with opportunities to safely visit the Commonwealth’s state parks system. With the completion of the Frances Appleton Bridge, [DCR] is thrilled that pedestrians and bicyclists will have increased access to the Charles River Esplanade. Furthermore, the completion of the Frances Appleton Bridge serves as a major accomplishment, and is a welcome addition to the metro Boston area.”

The bridge is named after the wife of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, one of the most widely known and best-loved American poets of his lifetime. He used to cross the Charles River from Cambridge to Beacon Hill in the 1840s while he was courting “Fanny” Appleton, and the new bridge complements the historic Longfellow Bridge as a symbol of their union.

Boston Voters Back Pressley; Hill Voters Support Zakim

Like voters throughout the Commonwealth, Boston showed its support for Ayanna Pressley who unseated 10-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano to represent the 7th Congressional District in an upset victory in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

According to the city’s unofficial election results, 64 percent of Boston voters cast their ballots for Pressley, compared with Capuano’s 36 percent. Throughout the district, Pressley captured 59 percent of the ballots cast while Capuano garnered 41 percent, according to AP Data.

Pressley, age 44, will become the first woman of color to represent Massachusetts in the U.S. House. In 2010, she made history when she was elected as the first woman of color to the Boston City Council, where she continues to serve as an at-large representative.

 

Meanwhile, long-serving Secretary of State Bill Galvin defeated Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim by a margin of 36 percent throughout the Commonwealth. (Galvin captured 68 percent of the ballot statewide, compared with Zakim at 32 percent, according to AP data).

In contrast, around 52 percent of Beacon Hill voters Ward 3, Precinct 6 and Ward 5, Precincts 3, 4, 5 and 11 supported Zakim in the election as opposed to Galvin, who garnered 48 percent of the ballots cast.

Throughout Boston, 57 percent of voters supported Galvin, compared with Zakim at 42 percent, according to the city’s unofficial election results.

Upon learning the results of the Democratic primary, State Rep. Jay Livingstone wrote, “Ayanna Pressley and Josh Zakim ran great races, and their challenges brought issues to the forefront of political discussion. I look forward to Ayanna Pressley serving in her new role. I’m disappointed Josh Zakim did not succeed, but am pleased I can continue to work with him in his current role.”

Kenzie Bok, chair of the Boston Ward 5 Democratic Committee, wrote, “I’m thrilled Ayanna is going to be our next congresswoman – she is a role model to so many, ran an amazing campaign, and has already changed local politics just by running.

“Even though Josh lost, he and Ayanna both achieved a major shift: they showed that we can have a contest of ideas to choose the best candidate every cycle here in Massachusetts, regardless of incumbency.

“In an overwhelmingly Democratic state like ours, having real primary races like this is key to making our government the best it can be.

“I’m disappointed Josh won’t be our Secretary of State, but I’m proud of him for throwing his hat in the ring, and I think his candidacy alone has been good for voter access in Massachusetts.”

Rachael Rollins wins Suffolk County D.A. Rachael Rollins won the election for Suffolk County District Attorney Tuesday in the five person race to fill the seat left by outgoing D.A. Dan Conley. Rollins defeated Greg Henning, Shannon McAuliffe, Evandro Carvalho and Linda Champion. With her win Rollins will be the first female-candidate of color to hold the position in the history of the Commonwealth.

“I am honored and humbled.  But I also need to say – for all of us – that this is earned. As a 47-year old Black Woman, I have earned this,” she said Tuesday night. :We have earned this.  This is the time for us to claim our power and make good on our promises to make true criminal justice reform for the people in Suffolk County.  Reform that is progressive – that decriminalizes poverty, substance use disorder, and mental illness.  This is the time to create a system that puts fairness and equity first – as a model for the Commonwealth and the nation.”

In Boston Rollins received just over 40 percent of the vote followed by Henning who finished the night with 22 percent of the vote. Carvalho finished with 17 percent followed by McAuliffe who got 10 percent and Champion who ended the night with 9 percent.

In Beacon Hill Rollins received 633 votes and topped the ticket in the D.A. race here.

The district also includes Winthrop, Chelsea and Revere.

Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial to be Restored through Unique Partnership

Mayor Martin J. Walsh joined representatives from National Park Service, Friends of the Public Garden and the Museum of African American History on the Boston Common Friday to sign a Memorandum of Understanding committing to jointly restore the Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial.

Situated inside the Common on the corner of Beacon and Park streets, the bas-relief memorial created by venerable American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens will undergo a $2.8 million restoration in 2019, including a complete rehabilitation of its bronze sculpture. Portions of the park will be cordoned off and closed to the public during the five- to six-month construction period, officials said.

The memorial was installed in 1897 to commemorate Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th – the first regiment of black troops recruited from the North to fight for their freedom in the Civil War.  On May 28, 1863, the 54th Massachusetts infantry made its way for Beaufort, S.C., where it became part of the X Corps commanded by Major General David Hunter. Afterwards, the 54th took part in operations in Charleston, S.C. including the Battle of Grimball’s Landing on July 16, 1863 and the Second Battle of Fort Wagner on July 18, 1863.

 

During the latter battle, the 54th and other Union regiments waged a frontal assault against Fort Wager, which resulted in the death of Shaw and 20 other members of the infantry while 125 were injured and another 102 reported missing (and presumed dead). And upon returning home, members of the 54th faced racial intolerance despite having served their country so valiantly.

Marita Rivero, the museum’s executive director, recalled how Harriet Tubman, a leading abolitionist who escaped slavery to become the most celebrated “conductor” of the Underground Railroad, met troops from the 54th when their steamship landed in South Carolina and served them breakfast.

Michael Creasey, NPS superintendent, said the Shaw Monument is widely regarded as not only one of Saint-Gauden’s masterpieces, but also as one of the most important monuments in the U.S.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh, who has announced plans to devise a new Master Plan for the Common, juxtaposed the State House, located directly behind the monument, where he began his political career as a state representative as the son of immigrants in 1997, with the infantryman represented in the monument marching down Beacon Street, whom he credits for paving his eventual path to City Hall.

Besides restoring this monument, Walsh announced plans for memorials to Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife Coretta Scott on the Common and in Roxbury, a memorial to victims of the slave trade in Faneuil Hall and monuments honoring African-American culture in Dorchester and Roxbury.

Other elected officials on hand for the document signing included State Reps. Jay Livingstone, Byron Rushing and Chynah Tyler, as well as City Councilors Ed Flynn and Josh Zakim.

Meanwhile, Liz Vizza, executive director of the Friends, said the group plans to use the monument restoration to launch programming and a community dialogue and programming surrounding race relations in the city set to launch this fall.

“The project is an opportunity to engage the community through programming that will explore race, freedom and justice,” Vizza said, “and it couldn’t come at a more tumultuous time in our country’s history.”

217 Commonwealth Avenue: Zoning Board of Appeals Letter (7/31/18)

Back Bay: 217 Commonwealth Avenue

On July 31, 2018, the Boston Zoning Board of Appeals heard the proposal by Hexagon Properties for a new social club in the Algonquin Club building. Below is a letter that I penned voicing my general support for the application, but opposition to the roof deck plans. In the end, the Board approved the proposal, but I look forward to remaining engaged in this important neighborhood issue so that all stakeholders are satisfied.  The developers still need approval from the Boston Licensing Board for the roof deck, so there will be more public process regarding this issue.

217 Comm Ave_ZBA_18

Charlesgate Alliance Moves Forward with Plan to Reclaim Forgotten City Neighborhood

March 23, 2018

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The Charlesgate Alliance is energized and optimistic as the spring equinox approaches, according to a press release from the group established with the goal of piecing back together a forgotten Boston neighborhood that abuts the Back Bay and Fenway and runs adjacent to Kenmore Square and was lost more than half a century ago to construction of the Bowker Overpass.

And building on this growing momentum, it will hold another public meeting in Room 545 of a BU building at 545 Bay State Road on April 9 at 7 p.m., with representatives from Somerville’s Landing Studios on hand to present their latest designs. Light refreshments will also be served.

“We want as much public participation and feedback at that meeting as possible because both Landing Studio, and [the Alliance] are doing our best to develop these designs in a manner that will serve the public interest,” wrote Parker James, who co-founded the Alliance last in February of 2017 with neighbor Pam Beale. “Please attend and let us know what you think and want.”

The Alliance has also two events scheduled for April 28:  starting at 9 a.m., the group will sponsor the Charlesgate portion of the Muddy River cleanup and, later that day, its fundraising committee will host “Charlesgate in Bloom,” an upscale early evening gathering in the lobby area of the Bradley Mansion at 409 Commonwealth Ave., with themed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Committee members planning this event include Lisa Hazen, Maddy Segal, Tina Sykes, Rachel Bakish and George Lewis.  Tickets, which are limited and cost $75 each, can be purchased at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/charlesgate-in-bloom-tickets-43795821481.

Meanwhile, James extended the Alliance’s gratitude to Sen. Will Brownsberger; Reps. Jay Livingstone and Byron Rushing, and City Councilor Josh Zakim.

“The ongoing support and practical advice we receive from these individuals is valuable beyond description, and we will never forget their contributions to our effort,” James wrote. “We would also like to thank the following for their invaluable effort, advice, and support: Karen Mauney-Brodek of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, who is our greatest ally; Patrice Kish of [the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation,] who is a national leader in historic parks and an expert on Olmsted’s designs; Fran Gershwin of the MMOC, a tireless advocate for water quality improvements in the Muddy River basin; and others who are too numerous to name at the moment.”

While the Alliance has yet to sign a memorandum of understanding, James said both DCR and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) “have been very forthcoming and seem willing to partner and collaborate with us in [these] efforts.”

James wrote, “We have very high hopes that we can develop a formal partnership with them to ultimately realize a tenable, community-led solution for this long-neglected part of the city. Our gratitude goes out to all of our supporters, especially to our Leadership group, who contribute so much of themselves to this effort. Anyone can join our group at any level of interest, although the Leadership group is the best way to get involved actively.”

Leadership meetings are typically held at 7 p.m. on the first day of each month at the ENC’s Shattuck Visitor Center at 125 Fenway. No R.S.V.P. is necessary.