Organization urges legislature not to pass exemptions of site from public process
BOSTON, MA (July 22, 2022) –As the Massachusetts House and Senate finalize an economic development bill, Boston Harbor Now supports preserving Chapter 91 protections for a waterfront site in Everett under development consideration and keeping it within the current Designated Port Area (DPA). The organization is urging the Massachusetts Legislature not to pass exemptions of the site from public regulatory processes required for waterfront parcels in order to encourage swift, non-water-dependent commercial development.
“Our citizens hold historic rights to formerly filled tidelands and the harbor itself. This is a prime site with vast potential for equitable and inclusive public access to the water, especially in communities with limited access to our blue and green public open spaces. It is critical we don’t circumvent the public process designed to provide those public benefits,” said Kathy Abbott, president and CEO at Boston Harbor Now. “Chapter 91 helps ensure welcoming harbor design including expanding and improving the Harborwalk, our region’s gateway to the water.”
Chapter 91 is the historic state law promoting and protecting public use of waterways and tidelands. Through Chapter 91 public processes, Boston Harbor Now and community partners have made great strides advocating for a Harborwalk 2.0 extending throughout Boston Harbor with climate adaptation designs that keep the water out on the stormy days and welcomes everyone on the sunny days.
Along with being subject to Chapter 91, the Everett site is also located within a Designated Port Area (DPA), a waterfront area regulated to support industrial water-dependent uses. Traditionally, these properties have included uses like fish processing and shipping and other industrial uses, but in 2019 Boston Harbor Now released a report outlining innovative ideas from around the world as additional uses to consider for our local DPAs including:
- Wind turbine development and manufacturing
- “Blue tech” hubs to invest in and accelerate water-related startups
- Maritime education and green job and other workforce development programs
“This deep water site is particularly well suited to active maritime uses because the large parcels and existing industrial operations can support new port uses,” said Abbott. “Keeping it within DPA boundaries opens up the potential for an array of exciting water-dependent options that creates jobs and strengthens Greater Boston’s connection to the global maritime economy.”
“By preserving the Chapter 91 requirements for this site, the public can be assured of constitutionally protected waterfront access. The public process can ensure appropriate public benefits such as water transportation access in a transit-starved area, high quality open space on the water’s edge, and other types of public amenities,” added Alice Brown, Chief of Planning and Policy at Boston Harbor Now.
Boston Harbor Now urges the legislature to continue to protect Chapter 91 and a municipal harbor planning process for the site and its DPA boundary review.