Outdoors Magazine

Shadows and Our Parks: Make Your Voices Heard

Posted on the 14 December 2016 by Fopg @fopg

The last few weeks have seen a significant increase in publicity around the proposed Winthrop Square development and its potential impact on Boston Common and the Public Garden, with four articles in The Boston Globe alone. The more light shed on this potential dimming of our parks, the more people will understand the importance of this issue.

At the same time, there are public meetings and government actions between now and the end of January that we want you to be aware of. We are eager to engage with city and state officials, other organizations, the development community, and citizens like you as we strive to ensure good public policy that allows development while protecting our parks.

As you know, Millennium Partners' proposed 750-foot tall building would violate the shadow protection laws during most of the year - some days casting a mile-long finger of darkness from the financial district down the middle of Boston Common, across the heart of the Public Garden and into the first block of the Commonwealth Avenue Mall. To "solve" this problem, the city of Boston has signaled it will file legislation giving Millennium an exemption from the state laws.

While this legislation has been billed as a one-time exception, the building's shadows across our parks would be permanent. And it would likely spur attempts by other developers to do the same, setting a precedent for eroding decades-old protections for centuries-old public parks.

While we oppose Millennium's project as proposed, as well as any legislation to allow it, we view the issue as much bigger than this building. The problem requires a broader strategy to ensure the integrity of our parks in perpetuity. The Friends will be taking part in all forums on this issue and we hope you'll consider doing the same. The next opportunity will be on January 5, when there will be a 6:30 p.m. Public Meeting in Suffolk Law School, first floor, 120 Tremont Street, Boston.

Meanwhile, the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) Office is scoping the Draft Environmental Impact Report.

Finally, we encourage you to contact your elected officials on this important issue as soon as possible. A phone call is the most effective!

State elected officials:

Boston City Councilors:

Comments can also be let on the BPDA Winthrop Square page.

We want to work with the city to find a long-term, comprehensive solution that encourages appropriate development without eroding protections for our parks. We welcome your support.

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