Category: Back Bay Sun

Esplanade Association Board says ‘Thank You’ to Rep Livingstone

November 9, 2018

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The board of the Esplanade Association hosted a reception to thank State Rep. Jay Livingstone for his contributions to the Charles River Esplanade, and to the neighborhoods of Back Bay and Beacon Hill on Thursday, Oct. 25, at the home of T.K. and Lianne Ankner.

At this intimate gathering, Livingstone met with EA supporters and spoke of some of his proudest moments while in the Legislature. He was acknowledged for his contributions to public access to the Charles River Esplanade, including advocacy for the completion of the Fanny Appleton Footbridge, inclusion of Commissioner’s Landing for funding in the Governor’s 2018 Environmental Bond Bill and his active role in planning for the future of the former Lee Pool site.

“As a Friends group to a state park, it is invaluable to have allies in the State House to help secure funding for major improvements to the park or advocate for the removal of impediments to public access,” said Michael Nichols, executive director of the Esplanade Association. “Rep. Livingstone understands the role the Esplanade plays in improving the quality of life for the people in his District and beyond and he has been a strong supporter of the park throughout his years in office. We were thankful for this opportunity to express our gratitude.”

Galvin says New Shadow Law Removes Layer of Protection for Historic Parks

By Beth Treffeisen

Gov. Charlie Baker recently signed a home-rule petition into law that would allow Millennium Partners to move forward with building a 775-foot tower on the site of the city-owned Winthrop Square Garage, bypassing two existing state laws that protect the Boston Common and Public Garden from new shadows.

Mayor Martin Walsh introduced this bill last April for a “one-time” exemption to the state shadow laws, citing the reported $153 million sale of the property would bring to the city. The Boston City Council approved sending the bill to the State House in a 10 – 3 vote.

 

“The bill passed removed a layer of protection for historic sites but it doesn’t mean the project is exempt from other processes,” said Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin. “Millennium wouldn’t be able to build this building without that exemption but it’s still fuzzy on how it’s going to go moving forward.”

Galvin said that although this project skirts around the 25-year-old state shadow laws that have shielded the downtown historic parks from excessive building shadows, there is still more to be done.

The project, which is set to break ground next year, is still under going the Article 80 process with the City, has yet to complete the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) report, and still needs to gain the approval of the Federal Aviation Administration before it can reach its proposed height.

In addition Galvin said there hasn’t been a wind study or a complete shadow study that goes beyond the downtown parks into the surrounding historic neighborhoods.

“The process is going to go on,” said Galvin. “A layer of protection has been removed, but the building is not exempt from the process.”

As part of the MEPA report, Galvin who is the Chair of the Massachusetts Historical Commission will work towards determining the effect the proposed tower will have on historic buildings and sites downtown.

Galvin said that although the bill may have taken away a layer of protection for the Public Garden and the Common there are other buildings and historic architecture that needs protection as well.

“I look forward to continuing to work with Mayor Walsh, the Friends of the Public Garden and other stakeholders on the short-term and the long-term improvements to the Boston Common that are possible because of our collaborative efforts,” said State Rep. Jay Livingstone.

 

The Friends of the Public Garden worked with the developers Millennium Partners to come to agreement that would invest $125,000 a year for 40 years towards a fund for the upkeep of the Common, Public Garden and Commonwealth Avenue Mall.

 

The Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay (NABB) said that this is not the outcome they had hoped for but understand that the City said that this is a one-time exemption and offered further study and protections for the Boston Common, the Public Garden, and the Commonwealth Avenue Mall from development and its subsequent impacts from mid-town.

Vicki Smith the executive director of NABB said that the neighborhood association would continue to request shadow studies and wind studies on new development in the Back Bay that negatively affect Copley Square and the Commonwealth Avenue Mall.

“Given the dramatic number of new buildings under construction and consideration it is more important than ever to protect and preserve our increasingly used green spaces,” wrote Smith. “They are precious and significantly contribute to what makes the Back Bay so attractive to both residents and visitors.”

She continued, “On any given day virtually year round, there are people from all over Boston and the world in Copley Square and on the Mall. NABB will continue to advocate for the protection and enhancement of these iconic spaces for future generations.”

Mayor Walsh Hosts Coffee Hour on Commonwealth Avenue Mall

July 28, 2017

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By Beth Treffeisen

Mayor Martin Walsh greeted residents of the Back Bay during a sunny morning on Thursday, July 20. There residents enjoyed coffee and breakfast treats provided by Dunkin’ Donuts and fresh fruit from Whole Foods Market.

In addition, participants received a flowering plant grown in the city’s greenhouses as a gift. One lucky winner got a chance to win raffle prizes from Dunkin’ Donuts.

“Coffee Hours give me another opportunity to meet with residents, answer their questions and discuss all that the City of Boston has to offer,” said Mayor Walsh. “Our parks provide a great backdrop for conversations.”

In attendance included representatives from various City departments, Boston City Councilors Josh Zakim, Annisa Essaibi-George and Michael Flaherty, State Representative Jay Livingstone, members of My Sisters Keeper, Friends of the Public Garden and the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay.

“I want to thank Friends of the Public Garden. You do some incredible work in our City – between the partnership with the Friends and the Park and Recreational Department, along with the investments made in the last few years in our parks system I think we’ve made some real good gains in our City,” said Mayor Walsh at the coffee hour. “I want to thank all of you for caring and being so invested in our parks.”

He continued, “We want to continue to make sure our park space is first class and available to all.”

Mayor Walsh pointed to various investments going towards the neighborhood from this year’s Capital Budget. This includes almost $16 million towards the rare book collection at the Boston Public Library to have the proper ability to store books and have better ventilation and fire protection.

In an effort alongside the State and Federal government, the City has also invested $18 million towards replacing the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge over Commonwealth Avenue, which is currently under construction now.

In addition, $3.5 million is going towards reconstructing the sidewalks and plaza around the Boston Common on Tremont Street, $1.5 million towards redoing the pathways in the Public Garden, a little over $1 million towards the Public Garden Lagoon and $2.2 million towards construction of new sidewalks and streetscape along Boylston Street.

“I live a few blocks away and this does feel like my front yard and I know it does to many of you as well,” said Zakim. “It’s so important that we continue making those investments and continue having that support and continue making this City be an even better place to live in. I thank you all for your activism and coming out here this morning.”

Mayor Walsh also pointed towards the Build BPS program that was launched this year. As part of the program major investments will be going towards new buildings and transforming schools around Boston. Councilor Zakim will be leading a meeting in the upcoming future on how the area could benefit from investing in a public school.

“I know there is a great want and desire to have a school here,” said Mayor Walsh. “As we move forward we’re going to ask what is this neighborhood lacking? I don’t think this neighborhood is lacking a lot but there is a couple things you are lacking and there is one glaring lack.”

Representative Livingstone agrees. He joked saying, “My son Henry turns five in a couple years so the Mayor has some time to get this done but this is long overdue.”

Livingstone said that everyone in this neighborhood has the same goal in making this place a great place to live.

“Everyone wants to make this a great City and make this a great neighborhood,” said Livingstone. “We all come at it with different perspectives and think different things are needed but it is a great open relationship of communication that is already great to see and it results in changes.”

Proposed Volleyball Stadium on Common Raises Concerns

Back Bay Sun / Beacon Hill Times — Report regarding local concerns regarding proposed Olympic Volleyball Stadium on the Boston Common. “State Rep. Jay Livingstone suggested that one of the state’s many beaches would serve as a more appropriate venue for Olympic volleyball. ‘It has the potential to cause significant damage to the Common, including the removal of trees,’ Livingstone said. ‘I’ll continue to work to preserve the Common.’” Read the story in the Back Bay Sun or Beacon Hill Times.