With life expected to slowly return to some semblance of normal by the summer, we must continue to find ways to promote public health and the economy. But we also must protect the public’s right to access open space along the city’s waterfront.
“Public access to Boston’s beautiful waterfront won today,” said Peter Shelley, Senior Counsel at CLF. “State officials acted unlawfully in coming up with the Downtown Municipal Harbor Plan and handed private developers a free pass to create new rules to benefit themselves. The judge saw right through this effort and affirmed that only the state’s Department of Environmental Protection can make decisions that protect the public’s centuries-old right to access the water and waterfront.”
“It is unacceptable that this plan allows developers to buy their way out of regulations they don’t like,” said Peter Shelley, Senior Counsel at CLF. “The public’s right to access the waterfront has been guaranteed for generations, and officials have singlehandedly undermined that right. The municipal harbor planning process is broken, and we’re looking forward to proving it in court.”
On a recent visit to the Battery Wharf in the North End, we found some of the most egregious violations of the public’s rights to access and enjoy the waterfront that we’ve ever seen. Battery Wharf has not only privatized spaces that belong to the public, it has capitalized on them, charging high-end rental fees for areas that are supposed to be available to the public 24 hours a day, free of charge.
“Boston’s redevelopment boom is an opportunity for the city to finally get this right,” said Deanna Moran, Director of Environmental Planning at CLF. “Our leaders must learn from mistakes in places like the Seaport and commit to climate-smart and equitable development from here on out. Transportation access and public open space cannot be afterthoughts any longer.”
“Waterfront spaces in Massachusetts are owned by the public, and those ownership rights are being threatened,” said Bradley Campbell, President of CLF. “Developers continue to wall off access to the water, even as climate change threatens to render useless the precious few open spaces that do exist. This event was critical in bringing together people from communities across Boston to learn how to advocate for their right to access the waterfront.”
CLF and Boston Harbor Now hosted a forum with diverse stakeholders – city and state leaders, advocacy organizations, the development community, and others – to discuss regulatory updates and other proactive measures that will not only allow for, but encourage, climate resiliency measures on Boston’s waterfront that benefit the public.
Boston Harbor is nearing a crossroads: Will it remain the People’s Harbor, open and accessible to the public? Or will it become an exclusive enclave welcome only to the wealthy? Will it be swamped by sea level rise and extreme weather? Or will it emerge as a national model for climate resiliency? We all can… Continue reading Pledge to Protect the People’s Harbor
“Exxon has put vulnerable communities and the harbor at risk as part of its pattern and practice of deceiving regulators and the public about the risks of climate change,” said CLF President Bradley Campbell. “Exxon has known about these risks and its ongoing spills for years and is failing its most important duty under the law: to avoid spills of oil and hazardous substances that threaten public health and the environment.”
In order to meet the growing threat of climate change along the Massachusetts coast, the Commonwealth must update its laws and regulations to reflect changing climate conditions such as anticipated sea level rise and increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events. This task includes critical updates to the Public Waterfront Act program and its… Continue reading Climate Change and the Massachusetts Public Waterfront Act