Shadow Legislation Summary

Downloadable Copy: Shadow Legislation Summary.pdf

FOPG

Shadow Legislation Summary
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Two State laws in place for the past quarter of a century have effectively protected Boston’s signature public parks from excessive shadowing, while still allowing for robust downtown development. The Friends of the Public Garden steadfastly supports these effective laws and opposes any erosion of these protections.

Boston Common Shadow Law (Ch. 362, 1990)

●   This State law restricts new shadows on the Common to the first hour after sunrise or 7:00 a.m. (whichever is later) or the last hour before sunset, with different exemptions for buildings in the Midtown Cultural District, which lies east and south of the Common and Garden (see the attached plan).

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Fact Sheet on Proposed Winthrop Square Tower

Downloadable Copy: Fact Sheet on Proposed Winthrop Square Tower.pdf

FOPGFact Sheet on Proposed Winthrop Square Tower
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The Proposed Tower Violates State Laws

●    The Friends of the Public Garden is committed to preserving sunlight and preventing shadow creep on the City’s landmark public parks, while also allowing development to continue in downtown Boston.

●    Millennium Partners’ proposed 775-foot Winthrop Square development is in violation of existing laws designed to protect Boston Common and the Public Garden from shadow creep. These laws, in effect for a quarter century, have protected the City’s signature public parks while allowing a robust level of development in downtown Boston.

●    If built, Winthrop Square Tower would cast a morning shadow stretching from Winthrop Square in the financial district, down the middle of Boston Common, through the heart of the Public Garden and onto the Commonwealth Avenue Mall – a distance of roughly one mile.

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Advocacy Alert

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Shadows from 200 Clarendon, mid-afternoon December 2016

Dear Friends,

Now is the time to let the Boston Planning and Development Authority (BPDA) and your elected officials know your opinion about the Winthrop Square development proposal and the threat of shadows on our parks.

The deadline for BPDA public comment period on the Winthrop Square proposal is January 16, 2017 now extended to January 20, 2017.  Please email the Project Manager, Ms. Casey Hines, at casey.a.hines@boston.gov as well as call your elected officials including the City Council and the Mayor with your comments about shadows and our parks.

Individual messages are the most impactful, and please include your personal thoughts about these iconic parks.

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Shadows and our Parks: Make your voices heard

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 comment opportunities 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.

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Shadows and our Parks

A typical fall day on Boston Common
A fall afternoon on Boston Common

Dear Friends,

We have heard from our members expressing concerns about the Winthrop Square development proposal, and asking about the Friends’ position regarding the protection of our parks from shadows, in light of recent press about this proposal.  While comments from the Friends have been included in some articles, with varying accuracy, we want you to know that we stand firm  in our commitment to protect our parks from any weakening of existing  shadow laws.

The shadows from the proposed 750-foot tall project in Winthrop Square would reach as far as Commonwealth Avenue Mall and violate the current shadow legislation. The Friends of the Public Garden has consistently advocated for protecting our parks from excessive shadow and wind resulting from development projects that would harm these vital and historic greenspaces in the heart of Boston.

As you know, in 1990, the Friends worked with elected officials and the Boston Redevelopment Authority to draft and enact legislation to protect the Boston Common and Public Garden from damaging new shadows. This shadow protection has worked as intended – it has successfully protected our parks, while allowing robust development to continue in the city. Now, 25 years later, we are facing a new generation of buildings that challenge our  parks.

We believe that we need a comprehensive solution to downtown development projects that threaten to cast shadows on the parks and do not conform to the current legislation. We are meeting with the BPDA, gathering information, and seeking answers to unresolved questions about the project.

If you want to make your voice heard, please contact your state elected officials (Byron RushingJoe BoncoreAaron Michlewitz, William Brownsberger and Jay Livingstone) and Boston City Councilors (Michelle  WuAnnissa Essabi George,  Tito JacksonMichael Flaherty,  Bill LinehanJosh ZakimAyanna Pressley, and Sal LaMattina) directly to express your concern  about any potential changes to the state shadow laws that would reduce the  shadow protection that has existed successfully for 25 years.

Help us protect the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth  Avenue Mall.  Together we can ensure the healthy future of our parks.

Sincerely,
Liz Vizza
Executive Director, Friends of the Public Garden

 

CHARLESGATE BLOCK  Commonwealth Avenue Mall NEIGHBORS

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Dear Friends Member,
This letter is to ask for your help in determining the future of the Charlesgate block of the Commonwealth Avenue Mall.  For the past three years the Friends  have been working to improve the health and beauty of this landscape with the following:
  • Extensive work on the trees
  • Excavation of entire block to correct the soil composition and the drainage
  • Replacing and upgrading the irrigation system
  • Turf restoration.
Since the initial work we have committed to do extra ordinary maintenance in this block to ensure the turf and the trees remain healthy and strong. The Friends have invested $130,000 over three years in this block for turf restoration, tree care, and the Leif Eriksson sculpture restoration. This huge investment of time and money has improved and maintained the beauty of this block of the Mall.
Unfortunately, this considerable investment is being destroyed by the use of this block as an off-leash dog park.  Because this block is fenced it is an inviting spot for off-leash dog activity which is illegal in this park.  This usage has grown to such an extent in the past year that the majority of the investment in improvements is being wasted because we simply can’t get ahead of the damage that is being done. While we welcome dogs and dog walkers using the park properly, the current fencing exacerbates unsuitable use as an off-leash dog area. In addition, this off-leash behavior has made it difficult, if not impossible, for other people to feel welcome and safe in this area of the park.
These fences are not historic; they were installed in the 1980’s.  Removal would bring the Charlesgate block into aesthetic harmony with the rest of the Mall where the fences are on the cross streets only. About 15 years ago, then Commissioner Justine Liff removed a similar fence around the Hereford block because of the exact same problem. If you look at the Hereford block today, where the Friends has a similar program, you can see the difference.
Charlesgate can look like the Hereford block, but only if the fence is removed:
  • The Friends of the Public Garden has recommended to Parks Commissioner Cook that this fence be removed.
  • The NABB Board of Directors voted at a meeting last week to support this recommendation.
Commissioner Cook wants to hear the removal of the fence is supported by the neighborhood.  We have promised we will do our best to “take the temperature” of the abutters and supporters of the stewardship of the Mall.
We are now reaching out to get your feedback.  
A response of a simple YES or NO to removal of the fence would be welcome, additional comments would be appreciated. Please put Charlesgate in the subject line of your email.
Please respond to the Friends at info@friendsofthepublicgarden.org  or to my email mpok384@verizon.net.   Numbers will matter.
Please send your response by June 20, 2016.
Thank you,
Margaret Pokorny, Chairman, Commonwealth Avenue Mall Committee
A joint committee of Friends of the Public Garden and NABB

 

Historic Preservation and the Community Preservation Act

What is CPA and what can it do for your organization?

This November, Boston voters will have the opportunity to vote YES for the Community Preservation Act in Boston. The Community Preservation Act (CPA) will bring innumerable benefits to the City of Boston, furthering the work of preservationists and community builders alike. CPA will provide funding for preservation in amounts we’ve never seen in Boston. With the passage of CPA, the typical Boston homeowner whose home is assessed at $500,000 would pay approximately $24 per year towards this investment, and in turn, the City would generate $20 million or more every year for CPA projects including affordable housing, parks/open space, and historic preservation.

Please join the Boston Preservation Alliance and Historic Boston Incorporated, Thursday June 23rd, from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. at the African Meeting House to learn more. 

During our time together we will discuss how CPA money would be raised, how it would impact your neighborhood, and where the funds would go. Come and get your questions answered and brainstorm how the CPA can help your organization. At this meeting we will discuss:

  • Obtaining formal endorsements from preservation and neighborhood organizations that will be used in the support campaign for CPA
  • The elements of a campaign underway and  how you can get involved in promoting the CPA ballot initiative in your community and among your members

 This event is free and open to Organizational Members and partners of the Boston Preservation Alliance and/or Historic Boston, Inc. and any other friends of historic preservation.

This event is next week!

Please register ASAP.  
Thursday, June 23
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
African Meeting House, 46 Joy Street, Beacon Hill
Registration required.

Learn more about CPA at Yes for a Better Boston