Viewpoint: Once-in-a-generation chance for resilient, inclusive waterfront – Boston Business Journal

By Deanna Moran – Director of Environmental Planning, Conservation Law Foundation Oct 29, 2021, 5:30am EDT Given the twists and turns that the Downtown Municipal Harbor Plan (MHP) has taken over the last several weeks, Boston’s residents and business community can be forgiven for not knowing where the plan stands or what comes next. For context, the plan guides development along a section of Boston’s waterfront that stretches from Long Wharf to the old Northern Avenue Bridge. Earlier this year, a judge invalidated parts of the state’s plan after a lawsuit from Conservation Law Foundation. Fast forward to September, when Acting Mayor Kim Janey requested an opportunity to go back to the drawing board and create a new harbor plan that centers on public access, equity and resilience to climate impacts. Gov. Baker responded by claiming that the old plan needed to remain in effect until the city comes up with a new one. Confused? You’re not alone. Despite the governor making city officials jump through hoops to plan its own waterfront, the city has made its position clear: Boston wants a redo on the plan. In addition to Acting Mayor Janey’s statement, the city council has voted to amend the plan and both Councilors Wu and Essaibi-George, who are contending to become Boston’s next mayor, voted in favor. In contrast, the mixed messages from the state seem to be more about protecting a legal strategy for appealing the decision from earlier this year than about doing what is right for Boston.   Technicalities and political wrangling aside, as of right now, the state has asked the city to commit to a new process that will result in a new plan for the downtown waterfront. What does that mean? Simply put, the next mayor of Boston will have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to put forward a vision for the downtown waterfront that is resilient and inclusive of all residents, and that starts with a planning process that includes all neighborhoods. Poll after poll has shown that Black and Brown Bostonians feel unwelcome on Boston’s waterfront. The new administration will be responsible for shepherding a robust planning process that encourages all residents to contribute their thoughts on creating an MHP that addresses our shared priorities for access, resilience, and equity, and doesn’t just continue the current trajectory. Rewriting the plan is not about one building or one project. It is about a vision for a world-class waterfront that learns from the mistakes of the Seaport. Will it be an area that belongs to everyone in Boston? Or only for a select few? Will it look ahead, and build in ways that protect from an encroaching ocean? Or ignore science and the changes only a few decades away? The court has given us a chance to make these decisions, and we should make the right ones. RECOMMENDED GOVERNMENT & REGULATIONS

Viewpoint: Once-in-a-generation chance for resilient, inclusive waterfront – Boston Business Journal

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