Massachusetts Chapter 91 shoreline regulations seek to preserve and enhance our tidal wetlands and enhance our aquatic environments while fostering planned community growth and vitality.
Regarding tidal wetlands under pier 5. The water is deep. As is typical of deep water ports, the shoreline is vertical not estuarian. The 100 foot from shoreline intertidal zone definition would only extend a short distance out the pier itself. However if considers that the dense placed piles themselves represent an intertidal aquatic environment that has flourished undisturbed for the past 50 years, this may explain why city dwelling fisherman come daily to this location on foot and bicycle carrying buckets and rods to fish the waters near the pier. It has teaming with marine life for many years now. The steel piles themselves from a unique and dense human constructed intertidal zone reef structure that is nourishing marine life throughout the harbor.
It may be that the darkness at the center of the pier limits the biological value of the “Pier 5 reef” and would suggest that opening light windows down its center so that the marine life will pass through to the center—(analogous to the fish windows that were placed under the middle of the Zakim Bridge and are visible form Paul Revere Park.) might enhance its aquatic value.—-I would think that preservation of the reef structure, selective reinforcement to provide safety for pedestrian use especially around the perimeter and perhaps various open areas and under a small and architecturally compelling weather protected space could provide artistic, educational, environmental and coastal resiliency benefits and perhaps allow for useful expansion of courageous as well. Perhaps in an age of changing tides and pending ocean encroachment, a wheel chair accessible glass Ramp –“tidal tube” could extend down into the intertidal zone and back up allowing visitors to walk down into the intertidal zone.
Visitors could observe the reef structure and the complex marine life directly. This would be a living underwater and intertidal exhibit that would change daily. Such a concept could also allow daily observations of the high and low tide lines as they fluctuate with moon, the winds and melting icepacks and allow for a living historical demonstration of the pier itself and its unique wartime construction.
Funds for preservation of the pier and Reef and its structural reinforcement to allow for light service duty as an educational and living outdoor natural exhibit as part of a coastal resiliency demonstration should be secured and the pier preserved as a great community asset.
Certainly, Imagine Boston 2030 as an updated city masterplan has revised the visions originally articulated in earlier municipal harbor plans and its guidance is now consistent with chapter 91 concepts regarding the tidal water sheet. I would argue the vison of Imagine Boston 2030 should drive the future of this unique and special community place.
Applying letter of the law compliance achieved by the weaseling through inconsistent regulatory language to implement plans that are inconsistent with the community will and the best interest of the people of Boston, should not be taken countenanced. Let us imagine creative solutions for the revitalization of pier 5 and celebrate its value as an aquatic sanctuary and educational resource on a beautiful and dynamic activated waterfront.