BHA Charlestown/Bunker Hill Redevelopment | Charlestown

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KentXie

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I get that Charlestown has transit issues, but paying for major solutions before the problem manifests is much harder than paying for minor solutions.
Yes, this is what we call shortsighted planning. Let's create a problem before we solve the problem.

By the way, the problem, in some aspect, already exists. The Charlestown Bridge, IIRC, is one of the bridges in Boston that has been listed as "structurally deficient", hence why the two lanes in the middle have been closed off. The bridge needs to be replaced regardless of whether the Charlestown development takes off or not. Adding a bus dedicated lane on the replacement bridge would probably add an insignificant amount to the total cost. After the completion, having the MBTA run extra buses through Main Street and Bunker Hill Street once the redevelopment is complete will most likely increase bus ridership in Charlestown and wouldn't cost a lot. It's a no brainer. You don't even need to build a new train station or anything.
 

fattony

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Kent, I was responding broadly to Rover's remarks. I should have quoted the specific post I was responding to. I also wasn't being very specific to Charlestown, perhaps I should have been more specific for clarity and relevance to the thread.


I'm having a little trouble figuring out what position you are taking. Are you saying Charlestown needs additional buses and bus lanes for current residents and they should not add the additional units? That seems politically infeasible in the face of the status quo. Why has the status quo been good enough for so long? You are right that Charlestown isn't empty, so you aren't talking literally about a bus lane to nowhere, but what would be the impetus to change without the new development? I'm not saying that it is right or fair that Charlestown in undeserved, but demanding social justice qua justice is not a very effective tactic.

Now, if you are arguing for additional buses and bus lanes in conjunction with densifying the neighborhood, then I think the city/state/mbta could get on board. That is what happened at Assembly. Neither the development nor the infill station where planned in a vacuum. Like it or not, fair or not, I think Rover is right that city/state/etc isn't going to do anything for existing Charlestown residents, but they will do something for new residents.
 

KentXie

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Now, if you are arguing for additional buses and bus lanes in conjunction with densifying the neighborhood, then I think the city/state/mbta could get on board. That is what happened at Assembly.
This is what I'm arguing for. I'm also arguing for expanding school/adding school facilities. Like I said before, Charlestown is home to a large population of low income residents (living in the Projects, CharlesNewtown, and Mishawum Park). We should ensure that the quality of education doesn't fall as these are the families who need it the most. Have the developer include it in their redevelopment.

Other issues, like new a new Fire Station can also be tucked within one of the new buildings, preferably one closest to the Tobin Bridge as they will probably have a lower value having to face a noisy bridge.
 

JeffDowntown

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Yes, this is what we call shortsighted planning. Let's create a problem before we solve the problem.

By the way, the problem, in some aspect, already exists. The Charlestown Bridge, IIRC, is one of the bridges in Boston that has been listed as "structurally deficient", hence why the two lanes in the middle have been closed off. The bridge needs to be replaced regardless of whether the Charlestown development takes off or not. Adding a bus dedicated lane on the replacement bridge would probably add an insignificant amount to the total cost. After the completion, having the MBTA run extra buses through Main Street and Bunker Hill Street once the redevelopment is complete will most likely increase bus ridership in Charlestown and wouldn't cost a lot. It's a no brainer. You don't even need to build a new train station or anything.
Totally agree. But apparently we only have the political will to do shortsighted planning.

But the better bus solution for Charlestown should be a pretty simple upgrade. Has the community been vocal about it in the bridge planning meetings? It looks like the 75% design from last September added a southbound bus lane (with expanded bridge width), but not a northbound bus lane. Is a further addition of the northbound lane what you are advocating for (plus additional bus service on the 92 and 93 routes)?
 

KentXie

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Totally agree. But apparently we only have the political will to do shortsighted planning.

But the better bus solution for Charlestown should be a pretty simple upgrade. Has the community been vocal about it in the bridge planning meetings? It looks like the 75% design from last September added a southbound bus lane (with expanded bridge width), but not a northbound bus lane. Is a further addition of the northbound lane what you are advocating for (plus additional bus service on the 92 and 93 routes)?
From the community's response, it seems like they are most likely unaware of the bridge upgrade. I think a smart move for the developer to do is to bring to attention to that in their public meetings. That should satisfy one of the community's worries.

Personally I don't think a northbound bus lane is necessary. As stated from a poster earlier, the choke point occurs at Causeway Street. Adding more buses would probably be a smart thing to do to deal the influx of residents, though, adding a bus dedicated lane may reduce the time that a bus take to complete a trip so the frequency may naturally increase without the need to add actual buses on the route.
 
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Rover

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I'll say again Kent you seem like an idealist and I appreciate that, but some of this is fantasyland thinking. Halt all development? Oookaayyy. Build schools ahead of time? Look, this would all be great but it has no chance of actually happening. You're right about short term thinking, but that's life. Voters are reactionary, not proactive. That means their elected leaders are too. By your own admission the community doesn't even have a clue about the infrastructure upgrades you're advocating.

Its not that your ideas are wrong. Its that they aren't grounded in our current reality. Build some big projects, which it should be noted don't happen overnight, and you get some critical mass to do the things you want. Halt everything until the things you want get completed? That just leads to nothing getting done, in Charlestown or anywhere else.
 

JumboBuc

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Would there be any value in running a shuttle along Medford St between Sullivan T and Bunker Hill? Maybe use Mishawum St > D St > Spice St to bypass the rotary (this would require some easements be granted and a couple intersections be adjusted, but it looks like nothing too major).

Build a "Bunker Hill Station" into the redevelopment at the corner of Bunker Hill St and Monument St and design a bus ROW through the site.

Maybe throw in a stop at Schraffts and a terminus at Spaulding. That could probably eat up a Partners Shuttle too.
 

KentXie

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I'll say again Kent you seem like an idealist and I appreciate that, but some of this is fantasyland thinking. Halt all development? Oookaayyy. Build schools ahead of time? Look, this would all be great but it has no chance of actually happening. You're right about short term thinking, but that's life. Voters are reactionary, not proactive. That means their elected leaders are too. By your own admission the community doesn't even have a clue about the infrastructure upgrades you're advocating.
Rover, read my posts over. These improvements should happen in conjunction, not before the project is built. Voters are also not reactionary. If they were, then they wouldn't be fighting against this project would they? In regards to your last statement, the onus should be put on the developers to make the community aware. The goal is to get them on their side right?

Its not that your ideas are wrong. Its that they aren't grounded in our current reality. Build some big projects, which it should be noted don't happen overnight, and you get some critical mass to do the things you want. Halt everything until the things you want get completed? That just leads to nothing getting done, in Charlestown or anywhere else.
No, it's grounded into a YIMBY's reality to build things without regards to those who are actually affected. A well planned project should be held to a standard where everyone at the end benefits. A well planned project should also help plant the seed for future developments elsewhere.

Take for example that this project comes into fruition without any infrastructure improvements such that schools, fire station, police station, or public transportation are strained. This would stall development elsewhere in Charlestown, such as a redevelopment of Mishawum Park, the industrial zone near Sullivan Station, Bunker Hill Community College, and the Navy Yard. If you improve the infrastructure in conjunction with this project, it will spur development elsewhere in Charlestown and they will likely see less resistance.

This is what a SMART development is and this is the standard that we should be holding the city to. If we continue to let developer build as they feel, the standards would never be raised.

Btw, this is the exact same logic as to why I oppose the shadow bank exception for 115 Winthrop as I believe any agreement in which the development of a project would hamper all future development is dumb. The development should build momentum, not slow it down.
 

datadyne007

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I'll say again Kent you seem like an idealist and I appreciate that, but some of this is fantasyland thinking. Halt all development? Oookaayyy. Build schools ahead of time? Look, this would all be great but it has no chance of actually happening. You're right about short term thinking, but that's life. Voters are reactionary, not proactive. That means their elected leaders are too. By your own admission the community doesn't even have a clue about the infrastructure upgrades you're advocating.

Its not that your ideas are wrong. Its that they aren't grounded in our current reality. Build some big projects, which it should be noted don't happen overnight, and you get some critical mass to do the things you want. Halt everything until the things you want get completed? That just leads to nothing getting done, in Charlestown or anywhere else.
When you don't build schools ahead of building 1000s of new units, you end up like Chelsea with students having classes in the hallways at Chelsea High School & students not having a place to sit in the cafeteria at the Elementary School. The concerns are valid. Again, I return to my call on the previous page for gentile density.

Actually, the Chelsea parallels/red flags for Charlestown are quite profound. Both are isolated areas challenged by major geography, car-dominated & poorly served by transit, despite having residents who are highly dependent on transit. Learn from Chelsea what not to do.
 

KentXie

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Would there be any value in running a shuttle along Medford St between Sullivan T and Bunker Hill? Maybe use Mishawum St > D St > Spice St to bypass the rotary (this would require some easements be granted and a couple intersections be adjusted, but it looks like nothing too major).

Build a "Bunker Hill Station" into the redevelopment at the corner of Bunker Hill St and Monument St and design a bus ROW through the site.

Maybe throw in a stop at Schraffts and a terminus at Spaulding. That could probably eat up a Partners Shuttle too.
I don't think it is really necessary to build a version of Dudley Station in Charlestown. The 92 and 93, route wise, does a good job being a feeder bus to Sullivan Station and Haymarket. The problem is frequency really. People on the southwest side of Charlestown (along Main St) do not have bus service feeding them to either stations on Sundays as the 92 doesn't run on Sundays. The only option is to walk to Community College station which, depending on where you live, can be relatively far. Switching to the 93 is also not an easy option as you would have to walk up Bunker/Breed Hill to reach a stop and even then the 93 comes once every 40 minutes on Sundays. Adding service to the 93 and adding limited service to the 92 on the weekends would easily rectify this issue.

Weekdays services in terms of frequency isn't bad but the traffic issue causes bunching which results in a decrease in frequency. A dedicated bus lane would resolve this issue.

While I don't see much need for buses to run through the Navy Yard (the 93 runs about 10 or so trips through that area on the weekdays and weekdays only), I do believe that if they move forward with plans to redevelop the Rope Walk, there would be more demand for buses there. Currently that area is completely cut off by two walls, the Rope Walk and the the Tobin Bridge.
 

Rover

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When you don't build schools ahead of building 1000s of new units, you end up like Chelsea with students having classes in the hallways at Chelsea High School & students not having a place to sit in the cafeteria at the Elementary School. The concerns are valid. Again, I return to my call on the previous page for gentile density.

Actually, the Chelsea parallels/red flags for Charlestown are quite profound. Both are isolated areas challenged by major geography, car-dominated & poorly served by transit, despite having residents who are highly dependent on transit. Learn from Chelsea what not to do.
I'm curious why you chose to make a straw man argument. Who's saying concerns about building schools aren't valid? What I'm saying, and others, is that would be great if we built schools BEFORE neighborhood growth kicks in, but that's.not.reality. Not sure how else to get that across. The Chelsea example? Swell. Does it have any relevance on what voters and pols will actually do? No. Not asking you to like that, but asking you to live in the same world the rest of us do. You will not get taxpayers to pony up for these shiny new objects ahead of time. That's life. I don't understand what part of "voters are reactive, not proactive" people are struggling with. If you want to change that, go for it but in the meantime only a population increase will drive the things you guys want.
 

datadyne007

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I'm curious why you chose to make a straw man argument. Who's saying concerns about building schools aren't valid? What I'm saying, and others, is that would be great if we built schools BEFORE neighborhood growth kicks in, but that's.not.reality. Not sure how else to get that across. The Chelsea example? Swell. Does it have any relevance on what voters and pols will actually do? No. Not asking you to like that, but asking you to live in the same world the rest of us do. You will not get taxpayers to pony up for these shiny new objects ahead of time. That's life. I don't understand what part of "voters are reactive, not proactive" people are struggling with. If you want to change that, go for it but in the meantime only a population increase will drive the things you guys want.
I'm deeply involved in politics (numerous people on here that know me personally can attest to that) and have followed various school approval votes in the greater Boston area (for schools I've worked on the design of). I can say that notion of not ponying up for shiny objects is just false. They want shiny objects & the MSBA gives out money like crazy. Voters typically overwhelmingly support building new schools in their neighborhoods because the current ones are pretty much all overcapacity anyway and/or old/outdated, regardless of any new development in the pipeline. And I'm of course not saying the schools have to be done by the time the new developments might open, but there has to be some kind of growth plan in place that is ready for implementation.
 

JumboBuc

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Voters typically overwhelmingly support building new schools in their neighborhoods because the current ones are pretty much all overcapacity anyway and/or old/outdated, regardless of any new development in the pipeline. And I'm of course not saying the schools have to be done by the time the new developments might open, but there has to be some kind of growth plan in place that is ready for implementation.
I don't want to sidetrack this too much, but is this true for Boston? My understanding is that Boston's total population is increasing, but its school-aged population isn't. Basically, demographic changes mean that the city now has way more singles, childless couples, and empty-nest retirees, and the households that do have children have have fewer than they used to. This means fewer children per resident (which implies a need for fewer schools, controlling for population) but more workers per resident (which implies a need for more transportation and more residential units, controlling for population). There was a McKinsey study a few years back that concluded Boston was over-schooled for these very reasons, but it's run into lots of pushback and questions over its methodology (as McKinsey studies usually/always do).

This isn't the case for suburban towns, however, as growth there is more likely to be families with kids and much less likely to be singles and childless couples.
 

datadyne007

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I don't want to sidetrack this too much, but is this true for Boston? My understanding is that Boston's total population is increasing, but its school-aged population isn't. Basically, demographic changes mean that the city now has way more singles, childless couples, and empty-nest retirees, and the households that do have children have have fewer than they used to. This means fewer children per resident (which implies a need for fewer schools, controlling for population) but more workers per resident (which implies a need for more transportation and more residential units, controlling for population). There was a McKinsey study a few years back that concluded Boston was over-schooled for these very reasons, but it's run into lots of pushback and questions over its methodology (as McKinsey studies usually/always do).

This isn't the case for suburban towns, however, as growth there is more likely to be families with kids and much less likely to be singles and childless couples.
Young children 0-14 per household is currently down in the Boston metro, but none of those studies take into account the recent explosive rate of housing construction in the area. It will be a few years, if not a decade, until we truly see the results. Also, these units in question in Charlestown likely *would* have some families, be them low income (more likely) or market rate.

It's also important to note that this isn't about one building in Charlestown. It's literally upzoning an entire neighborhood.
 
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BKNA

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Why do you expect more low income families? The BHA units aren't increasing. Any new families will be market rate or BPDA 'affordable'.

Boston is looking to close schools. They are not going to open a new school in Charlestown (or seaport or back bay or downtown), even if there is demand for it, while BPS closes schools in less $$$ neighborhoods. Not gonna happen.
 

JumboBuc

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Young children 0-14 per household is currently down in the Boston metro, but none of those studies take into account the recent explosive rate of housing construction in the area. It will be a few years, if not a decade, until we truly see the results. Also, these units in question in Charlestown likely *would* have some families, be them low income (more likely) or market rate.
Right, this building will certainly house additional families, but its very possible the the Charlestown of the future with this project complete (and its extra families) will have fewer children than the Charlestown of today. So this project will result in more children relative to if the project was never completed, but in the big picture that may not mean we need more schools.

The pace of demographic change going on right now is all-too-often underestimated. For example, in 2015 (the last year for which we have data) there were 9.5 babies born for every 1,000 female in Boston aged 15-19. Just ten years earlier in 2005 there 28.6 babies for the same number of Boston teen girls. [Source] That's huge! A 67% decrease in just one decade. The kids in BPS today are the children of those 2005 mothers. The dearth of babies from today's 2017 mothers will trickle through our schools over the next decade-plus, offsetting our increase in residential units. Obviously, these numbers are only about teen mothers, but they're a good example of the demographic trends taking place in our city right now.
 

datadyne007

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Again, this is in relation to Charlestown only and it is not just one building. This project in question is literally the upzoning of an entire swath of land (with 1:1 replacement of the BHA units plus new market rate) with no plan to support the additional growth - schools, transit, utility infrastructure, etc. All that's needed is a plan. The neighborhood should and needs to grow, but it needs to be properly supported!

even if there is demand for it, while BPS closes schools in less $$$ neighborhoods. Not gonna happen.
And we should just accept that as ok and not demand better? No.
 

JumboBuc

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Again, this is in relation to Charlestown only and it is not just one building. This project in question is literally the upzoning of an entire swath of land (with 1:1 replacement of the BHA units plus new market rate) with no plan to support the additional growth - schools, transit, utility infrastructure, etc.
I know, and I'm with you on everything but schools. When growth means that total change is less negative, you don't need to plan to support it.
 

BKNA

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Again, this is in relation to Charlestown only and it is not just one building. This project in question is literally the upzoning of an entire swath of land (with 1:1 replacement of the BHA units plus new market rate) with no plan to support the additional growth - schools, transit, utility infrastructure, etc. All that's needed is a plan. The neighborhood should and needs to grow, but it needs to be properly supported!
Source?
I'll agree no schools are coming (or fire stations--theres 2 already or police stations--there is 1 literally right next to this) but how do you know about transit, infrastructure, or any other mitigation?
It's way too early to know any of that. What we have seen to date isn't going forward. The scoping determination made that clear. You can't determine appropriate mitigation before knowing the final development size.

And we should just accept that as ok and not demand better? No.
I'm just pointing out, for the school argument in Boston specifically, it's far more complex than just meeting new potential demand.
 

JeffDowntown

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Peeps, all this argument about schools is pretty bogus.

Per a review just last year, the Boston School Department has an EXCESS of about 40,000 classroom seats. Excess! The BPS is aggressively looking to close down schools, perhaps as many as 50!

http://www.universalhub.com/2016/consultant-recommends-bps-shut-and-sell-50-schools

Per McKinsey:
BPS enrollment down 17% over last 20 years and 50% since 1970
BPS currently has approximately 93,000 total physical seats with only approximately 54,000 seats filled

1000 new kids in Charlestown is a pimple on a gnat.
 
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