Brewers, distributors argue over new divorce terms


Brewers, distributors argue over new divorce terms

By Andy Metzger, State House News Service

BOSTON — Now that beer distributors have conceded that the statutory hold they maintain over brewers should be relaxed, the beer makers and distributors are at loggerheads over what defines a small brewer.

Producers of pilsners, stouts and ales touted legislation this week that would give every brewer in the state — under their current volumes — the right to back out of their arrangements with distributors.

Katie Stinchon, executive director of the Massachusetts Brewers Guild, likened the current system to an inescapable marriage.

"It's a partnership like a marriage, right. And if it works it works, and if it doesn't work you want to be able to exit that relationship and not have to live with your spouse while you're in court battling a divorce," Stinchon said. "There are a lot of brewers that are happy with their distributors, and there are some that are not, and there are some that are fearful to hand their brand over to an entity that will have direct control over its success without really having any upper hand or leverage to leave."

On the other side of the debate at a Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure hearing, the business executives that put fermented products before consumers contended that only brewers whose annual output falls short of 930,000 gallons should be granted the freedom to back out.

Six months into a brewer's relationship with a distributor, under state law, the bond becomes unbreakable for the brewer except under specific circumstances such as if a distributor disparages the brewer's reputation, fails to "exercise best efforts" in promoting the beer or violates the terms of sale.

The brewers support a Rep. Alice Peisch bill (H 183) that would allow them to back out of a relationship with a distributor at any point as long as they make up no more than 20 percent of the distributor's product.

Size restrictations

Even the biggest craft brewer in the state, Jim Koch, maker of Sam Adams, acknowledged that his Boston Beer Company would not be restrained by the cap if Peisch's bill became law.

Rep. James Arciero, a Westford Democrat, asked Koch how, with its nationwide and international footprint, Boston Beer Company should be in the same category as small brewers.

"We live in an industry dominated by giants," Koch replied. Referencing AB InBev, the worldwide market leader that owns more than 500 beer brands, Koch said, "We compete with people 100 times our size. It feels pretty small where I sit."

In their legislation, the distributors measure brewer size by a different metric than the brewers. After several years of resisting brewers' efforts to loosen their grip, the distributors have gotten behind a bill sponsored by Rep. John Mahoney that would allow brewers that produce less than 930,000 gallons — or roughly 413,000 cases — of beer the freedom to sever ties with a distributor.

"You're playing a different game once you get over that," said William Kelley Jr., president of the Beer Distributors of Massachusetts.

That restriction would give start-up breweries freedom to change horses while keeping midsize Bay State beer brands such as Wachusett, Night Shift, Ipswich, Lord Hobo, and Cisco locked into their arrangements.

Meeting in the middle

Explaining the group's efforts to meet brewers halfway this session by supporting Mahoney's bill, Kelley told reporters that Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Stan Rosenberg conveyed that too many "precious legislative resources" had been spent on the dispute between brewers and distributors. Kelley said, "We were urged to come to the table and propose a solution."

Distributors do far more than hauling beer around, though the industry is a major employer of the influential Teamsters union, which represents truck drivers. Distributors warehouse product, provide marketing materials and make sales calls.

Mark Tatleman, an executive vice president at Merrimack Valley Distributing Company, said that distributors "fight for shelf space, draft handles, displays and cooler placement" to put beer brands in front of consumers.

Tatleman told the committee how he helped local brewers launch Greenhead IPA, including stopping by the brewery with his father one night to help them put more than 6,000 cans into six-pack holders for delivery the next day and thus ensuring that "Newburyport had their hometown beer."

Under Mahoney's bill, Newburyport Brewing Company would still have the freedom to walk away, Tatleman told the committee, saying it is "the size brewer that should be allowed to leave."

The so-called franchise law binding brewer to distributor made sense in a different era, decades ago, when one brewery could make up a distributor's entire business, Koch said. While brewers are bound to their distributors, a distributor can drop a beer maker if it is not selling well or even trade the business to another distributor, according to the brewers.

Mike Epstein, of Horizon Beverage, contended that the franchise law has allowed distributors to remain independent, keeping interstate giants from muscling them out. Epstein said the law has helped foster diversity of craft beer on state shelves and menus, contrasting the array of microbrews available with the dominance of Coca Cola and PepsiCo products in the state's soft drink market, where there is no similar protection for soda distributors.


Chris Buchanan of the Walmart Foundation joins Joe and Tim 8-16-17


Chris Buchanan of the Walmart Foundation joins Joe and Tim 8-16-17



Christopher Buchanan is Director of Public Affairs and State and Local Government Relations currently responsible for state and local government and community relations for the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut on behalf of Walmart and SAM'S CLUBS. In addition, Chris manages media relations and is Chairman of the company's Foundation Philanthropic State Giving Councils. Buchanan holds a Master's degree in Public Administration from the American University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Providence College. Born and raised in Boston, Chris currently resides in Plymouth.


Escaping the news Thunderdome


Escaping the news Thunderdome

By: Jim McManus

Following the news has become exhausting. We hardly know what to believe anymore. In response, many people now feel the need to curate reality, by pre-selecting news sources on their smartphones and tablet computers.

However, whether it’s in business or politics, the truth matters, and important decisions must rest on facts, data, and reality. Public and private investments in healthcare, transportation, housing, real estate, and education can be placed at risk if misinformation, or disinformation, is allowed to distort decision-making about essential issues.

To take one example: the public transit system in Greater Boston needs urgent, significant, and expensive attention. Only when more credible information about the MBTA is made available to the public and policymakers can we reach meaningful consensus on a sustainable path forward.

Another example illustrates how disinformation can lead to a frivolous waste of time and money. Despite the Trump administration’s claims, there is no credible evidence of voter fraud from the 2016 election. Not one cent of taxpayer money should be spent investigating that bogus claim. To their credit, nearly every state election official in America rejects the president’s charge.

Lately, the American public has been exposed to a bizarre information diet defined more by the standards of reality television and tabloid journalism than by conventional standards of truth, objectivity, thoroughness, and fairness. For the most part, blame rests with marginal media outlets that prize ratings and viewer clicks over credibility.

We did not arrive at this unsettling juncture by accident. So how do we get out of this news Thunderdome, where there doesn’t seem to be boundaries or rules?

Here are a few possible prescriptions for creating an environment that will facilitate a return to reality:

Overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision. Corporations are not people and they should not be able to distort the democratic process by flooding the field with contributions to elected officials who promote distorted or bogus policy-related studies and reports on education, energy, environment and health care. Money is not the mother’s milk of politics. It is the gasoline. Overturning Citizens United and creating a bipartisan campaign funding reform framework would help allow elected officials to focus on fixing important public problems.

Reinstate the Fairness Doctrine. For decades, from 1933 to 1987, the Federal Communications Commission forced broadcasters to present both sides of a public policy issue. In 1987, under former president Reagan, the Fairness Doctrine – considered a regulatory burden by commercial broadcasters – was dropped. Since then, public policy debates have become winner-take-all contests marked by sharp partisan divides. Reviving the Fairness Doctrine — even with the added complexities of online news — would help restore some civility, reason, and balance to public discussion of critical policy disputes such as health care, education, infrastructure, criminal justice, and national security.

Strengthen net neutrality. The FCC needs to stop its seesaw regulatory practices and embrace the principles of equitable and open access to the internet.

Invest in civic education. Earlier this year, in a shocking illustration of civc ignorance, Florida Representative Ted Yoho stated that members of Congress work for the president. When a US representative doesn’t understand that he belongs to a co-equal branch of government, it is time for a Sputnik-level commitment to educating citizens about our government and why it matters.

Reward true political leadership and bipartisan cooperation. There are many examples, still, of Republicans and Democrats working together to resolve intractable policy differences, most recently in addressing the opioid crisis that has ravaged millions across the country. Voters need to support elected officials who demonstrate the capacity for compromise, and vote out those who demonize the other-party members who don’t share their views.

Reality is not a just television genre.  It’s the basis for every important economic and political decision we make and it’s worth preserving.

Jim McManus, principal partner at Slowey/McManus Communications, is a professor of law and journalism at Emerson College.



Searching for the next generation of leaders


Searching for the next generation of leaders

By Linda Greenstein

“Summer Search gave me the opportunity to discover life beyond my neighborhood,” said Judith Garcia, 25, the youngest Chelsea city councilor.

Currently serving 1,027 students in Chelsea, Malden, Cambridge, and Boston, the free program helps students get to college, graduate, and then give back to the community.

“It is about equity,” said Hermese Velasquez, Summer Search Boston executive director. “We take high-potential students from low-income communities and provide them with the kinds of resources that kids from higher–income families take for granted.”

The median household income for families of students in the program is $23,230, and 95 percent of participants are minorities.

Teachers and guidance counselors nominate students for the program. Prospective students go through a screening and interview process and those accepted make a minimum six-year commitment.

All students participate in weekly mentoring sessions and take two summer trips designed to increase their self-sufficiency.

The national youth development nonprofit is funded by a combination of donations and endowments — mostly from corporate partners such as the Yawkey Foundation and the Amelia Peabody Foundation — along with fund-raising events. Since it began in 1998, it has a track record of success.

According to Velasquez, a Summer Search grad herself, 88 percent of students are the first among their siblings to attend college, yet 70 percent graduate with degrees.

Garcia, who joined as a high school sophomore, graduated from Chelsea High and remained with her mentor until she graduated from Wheaton College with a bachelor’s degree in urban studies.

“I was fortunate to embark on two trips, a wilderness expedition in Maine and a 56-day trip overseas to India,” she said. “Both became defining moments for me. I learned to see obstacles as opportunities and that an effective leader often wonders what it would be like to walk in someone else’s shoes. These experiences have helped guide me as an elected official.”

Following in Garcia’s footsteps, Elsy Sanchez, 18, graduated from Chelsea High in June. With a goal to become a pediatrician, she will study biology at Salem State University this fall.

“Summer Search taught me there are different ways to overcome problems,” said Sanchez. “I am more confident getting out of my comfort zone and taking on new challenges. I now advocate for myself. ”

President of his class at Malden High, Manuel Quesada Nylen, 17, was unsure if he wanted to accept the long-term commitment to Summer Search.

“My story is unique. I am the youngest of four. All three of my siblings were in Summer Search,” said Nylen, who will be a senior at Malden High this fall. “I thought I would be the black sheep of the family and skip the program, but I am so glad that I did not.

“Summer Search has been important to my whole family. My oldest sister graduated from Wheaton. I have a brother at Colby-Sawyer and a sister at Merrimack College.”

Between his sophomore and junior years at Malden High, Nylen took a character-challenging Summer Search trip to the Colorado Rockies.

“It was amazing,” he recalled. “I had never been on a trip alone. I didn’t know anybody. I remember flying over Denver and seeing all this green and thinking, ‘What kind of city was this?’ Then I got out on the trail and it was brutally challenging.”

Nylen’s mentor, Claire Marian, knows the experience improved his self-reliance and will help him in college, where he will face a very different environment without the support of family.

During her wilderness trip to Minnesota, Sanchez remembers “breaking down in tears” after trying to carry a canoe.

“My instructor told me, ‘I know you got this’ and showed me how I could learn to carry the canoe in three steps,” she said. “At that moment, I saw I was capable of overcoming obstacles. After I came out of the wilderness, I challenged myself more academically by signing up for six AP classes, including physics. The experience helped me decide to be a doctor and to know I can be doctor.”

Summer Search is unique because there are 14 full-time, professional mentors working with as many as 35 Greater Boston students at a time.

“My role is to listen and ask questions,” said Marian, mentor to Sanchez and Nylen. “I help students create a plan and stay accountable to the plan.”

“Claire doesn’t ask questions about grades,” said Nylen. “She asks how am I doing with my busy schedule. She helps me understand what I need to do to stay on track with schoolwork, three sports, and being class president.”

Marian helped Sanchez navigate the college application process. “Claire showed me how to sign up for the SATs, how to research colleges, and we talked about deadlines,” Sanchez said. I did the work and made the decisions, but Claire was there when I needed her.”

On her other summer trip, Sanchez went to Mexico, lived with a family, and performed community service. Nylen, with a dream of working in film, is attending a performing arts program at Ithaca College this summer.

Summer Search students and alumni give back to the community in several ways. Sanchez is a mentor at Chelsea Bridge Academy, where she works with English-language learners. Her goal is to provide medical care for kids in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Garcia is determined to make Chelsea a better place to live for its approximately 37,000 residents,62 percent of whom are Latino.

“I owe much of my success as a public servant to the Summer Search network for believing in me and for teaching me that anything is possible,” she said.




Boy, 6, revived with Narcan after possible opioid overdose


Boy, 6, revived with Narcan after possible opioid overdose

By: Paige Levin, CNN

(CNN)In what may be a sobering sign of the depths of the opioid crisis in New Hampshire, paramedics had to use Narcan to revive a 6-year-old boy Tuesday morning after a possible overdose.

This marked the first time American Medical Response had used the narcotic antidote on a child in New Hampshire, AMR communications director Kim Warth told CNN.

The child remained hospitalized Thursday in stable condition. He has been placed in the care of a different family member than he was with at the time of the incident, police in Manchester said in a news release.

    Manchester Police detectives are now investigating the case as a possible overdose. No arrests have been made, police said.

    "It's gut-wrenching," Lt. Brian O'Keefe told CNN affiliate WBZ. "It's tough, because our officers are responding to overdose calls on a regular basis on each of our shifts. You don't typically go to a potential overdose call with a young child."

    Police responded around 6 a.m. Tuesday to find the boy unresponsive in an apartment. He came to as soon as the Narcan was administered, CNN affiliate WMUR reported.

    Investigators have not released what drugs the boy may have been exposed to or who he was with at the time.

    "When you have a young child, it could be as simple as touching an area on a kitchen table, or a spoon, or a sink, or a doorknob," O'Keefe told WBZ. "If there's trace amounts of some kind of opiate derivative with the fentanyl or carfentanyl, it can have dire consequences."

    Opioids can be absorbed easily, even through skin contact, and the consequences take effect quickly. Just 2 to 3 milligrams of fentanyl, which is equivalent to five to seven grains of table salt, is enough to be fatal, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

    A potentially lethal dose for a child is even smaller -- just 1 to 1.5 milligrams. That's a little smaller than the head of a pin.

    New Hampshire is "sort of the focal point" of the country's opioid epidemic, Warth said.

    Five children younger than 10 and 176 youths between the ages of 10 and 19 had opioid-related emergency room visits in New Hampshire in 2016, according to a Drug Monitoring Initiative Overview Report.

    "It sort of just gives me chills, and I'm thinking that nobody is really untouched by this thing," Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) assistant special agent Jon DeLena told WMUR.

    Though the DEA is not directly involved with the case of the 6-year-old boy, the incident proves there is still work to be done, DeLena told WMUR.

    "That's why it's so important that we continue to have these conversations with our children," he said.

    Those who live nearby say they are concerned about the incident and the message it sends.

    "You can't let a 6-year-old find something and take it and almost die over it," neighbor Al Pellerin told WMUR.


    Shadowboxing: Galvin, city get in heightening debate over tower's shade


    Shadowboxing: Galvin, city get in heightening debate over tower's shade

    Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin on Tuesday threw a curve ball into the Winthrop Square Garage skyscraper development process, testifying to a committee of state legislators that his office would like a two-week hold on the home-rule petition that would allow a tall tower at the garage site in exchange for changing state law governing shadows.

    As Secretary of the Commonwealth, Galvin is also the chair of the Massachusetts Historical Commission, which is responsible for historic protection throughout the state. Galvin contends that his office did not receive word about studies on potential shadow impacts from a Winthrop Square skyscraper until late last week.

    “My office was only able to obtain access to the developer’s shadow study from the city on Friday, June 23, 2017, clearly not an adequate time to make a thorough, professional review,” Galvin wrote to Sen. Michael O. Moore and Rep. James J. O’Day, chairmen of the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government, in a June 27 letter. “It is worth noting that even a cursory review makes it clear that there are many approximations and disclaimers in the study. I believe we owe it to the people of Massachusetts to be diligent in seeking an independent review of these important questions.”

    O’Day said after the meeting the committee would honor Galvin’s two-week hold request.

    Galvin’s remarks on Tuesday caught city officials by surprise.

    “It surprised me and everybody else at City Hall that at the 11th hour, we’re hearing these concerns from the Secretary of State’s office,” Boston Planning & Development Director Brian Golden said in an interview after the committee hearing, continuing to say that Galvin’s comments “revealed a surprising lack of understanding of the process to date.”

    The city jumpstarted efforts to bring a tower to the Winthrop Square site in February 2015, and the BPDA has had three animated videos showing potential shadow impacts of Millennium Partners’ proposed skyscraper posted on its website since mid-December and early January.

    Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh this spring proposed a home-rule petition that proposed altering state shadow law in exchange for an anticipated $153 million payout from Millennium Partners. Those funds have been earmarked for improvements to the Boston Common, Franklin Park, the Emerald Necklace and refurbishing public housing in South Boston and East Boston.

    The shadow debate was perhaps most thoroughly discussed in a six-plus hour Boston City Council hearing on the home-rule petition in April. The City Council approved that home-rule petition on April 26, after which Walsh signed it and sent the document to the state Legislature.

    Galvin said the rapidity with which the petition became a “legislative finality” was quicker than expected, and did not give his Mass. Historical Commission team time to adequately review shadow studies.

    “There was about a week’s notice on the hearing, which is pretty fast by legislative standards,” Galvin said in an interview after the committee meeting. “We were not trying to prevent the hearing, but we wanted it understood that there was not going to be any legislative action until we had our opportunity to talk to the city on the shadow study.”

    Galvin said he’s concerned that the exact height of the building is as yet unknown, a concern that was echoed throughout testimony at the State House hearing on Tuesday. Golden testified that the height of Millennium Partners’ proposed tower would likely range between 710 to 775 feet.

    “You can’t even get to the justification of the why you would do this until you understand what it is that it would do,” Galvin said. “That’s why I asked for the delay.”

    The request for a two-week delay did not stop a broad coalition from expressing its support for the tower on Tuesday. Joe Larkin, principal with Millennium Partners, brought a cadre of diversified interests to the table when speaking in favor of the home-rule petition, including Samuel B. Hogan Sr., a bishop of First Jurisdiction Massachusetts, Church of God in Christ; Andy Hoar, president of CBRE New England, and Angie Liou, executive director of the Asian Community Development Corp. in Chinatown.

    Also speaking in support were Downtown Boston Business Improvement District President Rosemarie Sansone and Jesse Brackenbury, executive director of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway.

    Speaking in opposition to the home-rule petition was Greg Galer, executive director of the Boston Preservation Alliance, who said it set a bad precedent for development in the city down the line.

    Both Larkin, at Millennium, and Golden, with the BPDA, said their groups would be happy to share any information with Galvin's office.

    Golden said the last time the BPDA had had communication with the Massachusetts Historical Commission was in December, when state historic preservation officer Brona Simon filed a letter requesting, among other topics, that “shadow studies, overlaid on a historic resources map, which illustrates the current and new shadows from the proposed tower” be provided to the MHC.

    From then, the BPDA had not heard from the MHC until last week, Golden said.

    “If they wanted information weeks ago, we’d have given them what we had,” Golden said. “This is fundamentally surprising. The legislation was not a secret.”

    Galvin said that the burden of reaching out to MHC rested on the city’s and developer’s shoulders.

    “We reached out to them, and the responses we got were less than satisfactory — only at the 11th hour to give us access to the shadow study,” Galvin said. “This is not a case where the city is sitting back and being a diligent steward of the law. The city is a partner in this deal. This sort of ‘surprise,’ it’s a joke. It’s a joke.”

    Golden said the BPDA would continue to work with Galvin’s office throughout the MEPA and Article 80, the city’s development-review process for large-scale construction projects. Those processes are handled separately from the effort to amend the state shadow law, Golden said.

    Galvin said his next step is to review the shadow study he’s been given.

    “If there are additional studies they want us to review, they should get those to us as quickly as possible,” Galvin said. “When the city wants something they haven’t hesitated to call me. My number has not changed.”


    Summer Search, Opportunity Ahead


    Summer Search, Opportunity Ahead

    Helping teenagers make "getting into college" the answer to "how I spent my summer." Hermese Velasquez, Executive Director of Summer Search (and herself a Summer Search graduate); Dara Sostek, valedictorian from the Josiah Quincy Upper School, a Summer Search participant enrolled in the 2021 class of Northeastern University, join Brian Shactman.

    Watch: Summer Search, Opportunity Ahead | NECN 


    William Galvin seeks pause on shadow law vote


    William Galvin seeks pause on shadow law vote

    By Tim Logan

    It looked like smooth sailing for a bill that would allow more shadow on Boston Common and help clear the way for a new downtown skyscraper. Until Secretary of State William F. Galvin spoke up during a State House hearing Tuesday.

    Galvin asked lawmakers to delay for at least two weeks a vote on changing the existing shadow law — until the Massachusetts Historic Commission, which he oversees, has time to study the building’s impact on the Common, Public Garden, and other historic downtown sites.

    “This is not something that should be done recklessly,” he said. “It’s a very significant piece of legislation.”

    After the meeting, the chair of the committee considering the bill agreed to the delay, slowing what had looked like a fast track to approval for the bill, which is key to Millennium Partners’ billion-dollar tower proposal for the site of the Winthrop Square Garage — and the $153 million the developer has agreed to pay the City of Boston to buy it.

    But it’s still unclear whether the powerful Beacon Hill insider’s concerns amount to a speed bump or become a bigger obstacle for the complex project.

    Galvin said the Historic Commission hasn’t had time to review shadow impact studies it received late last week. He also said he’s hesitant to undo a law that has protected the historic parks for more than 25 years. His agency has broad latitude to review development projects that affect historic buildings. During his tenure Galvin, has occasionally held up projects for that reason, sometimes for years.

    The Winthrop Square tower, however, appears to enjoy broad support, especially since the Boston City Council approved changes to the shadow laws by a 10-3 vote in April. Once vocal critics of the project — Friends of the Public Garden and Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay — have adopted a more neutral tone. Key state lawmakers, previously noncommittal, havesponsored the shadow measure. And a parade of supporters testified at the public hearing Tuesday about the jobs, affordable housing, and revitalization opportunities the project would create.

    Millennium and city officials have spent months cultivating support for the tower, especially sinceit became clear in November that they would need to change state laws governing shadows cast on public parks. The Walsh administration has earmarked most of the $153 million sale proceeds for funding parks and public housing across the city.

    After the months of public discussion, Brian Golden, director of the Boston Planning & Development AgencyQ, said he was surprised that Galvin is only now airing his concerns. Golden said he would be glad to share any information that the secretary of state requests.

    Joe Larkin, the Millennium executive who’s leading the project, said he, too, is willing to meet with Galvin to address any issues.

    “We’ll sit with him, show him our studies and what we want to do,” Larkin said. “I’ve never actually met the man. I look forward to it.”


    Construction pending for Maynard Crossing at 129 Parker St.


    Construction pending for Maynard Crossing at 129 Parker St.

    By Holly Camero

    With the ever-changing retail market, Robert DiPietri is thinking outside the box when it comes to finding tenants for the development at 129 Parker St.

    “The retail market is in such flux right now. So retailers that were there five years ago are not there today. So we are almost starting from scratch again trying to get new tenants,” said DiPietri.

    DiPietri is vice president of Capital Group Properties, the Southborough-based firm that is developing the 58-acre property, formerly owned by Digital Equipment Corporation.

    The developers have been working with the town since October 2012 to come up with a plan both sides can agree on and after several failed attempts, Maynard voters approved amendments to the Neighborhood Business Overlay District zoning bylaw that governs the property at a special Town Meeting, Jan. 11, 2016.

    Capital Group still has not broken ground on the property, but DiPietri says they are nearing the finish line.

    “I think we’re getting close,” he said.

    DiPietri says they have been meeting with various boards for the last several months, during which they have pored over every detail, and they currently have meetings lined up until the end of June with the Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals and the Conservation Commission.

    Approval from the ZBA is required, he said, because the property is in a Zone 2 aquifer zone, and they must show the development will not impact town water.

    The architectural design has been agreed upon, as have the signs and most of the landscaping. Some of the open items include drainage on the property and the potential noise impact.

    “We are in the process of doing a noise study on the project right now,” he said.

    Most of the major issues have been worked out, he said, and he hopes to have permits soon so they can begin signing tenants.

    DiPietri said even if all goes well, he does not anticipate building will start until mid-August or September because after the permits are issued, there is a 21-day appeal period.

    “It’s a big project so there’s a lot to review,” he said.

    Capital Group has been looking at potential restaurants, a fitness center, and entertainment options, DiPietri said, to go in the property. A few businesses have already signed on. Emerson Hospital has committed to opening an urgent care center, Market 32 will open a grocery store that will include Starbucks and a liquor store, 110 Grill will open a new restaurant, and Lux Nails will open a salon. DiPietri is also hoping for a small hardware store, a pet store and a hair salon, to round out what is now called Maynard Crossing. There will be an apartment complex, with an affordable component, and senior housing.

    “We’ve got a couple of very exciting tenants that we are talking to and we’re hoping they will come,” he said. “A lot of them are just waiting until the final permits. It’s a big expense for them to commit.”


    How Boston’s Preparing For Rising Sea Levels


    How Boston’s Preparing For Rising Sea Levels

    By Anaridis Rodriguez, WBZ-TV

    BOSTON (CBS) – Boston is one of more than 300 cities across 47 states choosing to adopt the goals of the Paris Accord, with or without President Trump. But this latest push is nothing new for the hub. Massachusetts has been working to become climate ready for more than a decade.

    And for good reason.

    “If we had a large storm in 2050, then this would be an island right here,” said Austin Blackmon, Boston’s Chief of Environment, while standing in Christopher Columbus Park.

    Blackmon says the park, located in the city’s North End, is part of five waterfront neighborhoods under the threat of coastal flooding, major storms and extreme heat.

    Six months ago, Blackmon’s office, in partnership with The Green Ribbon Commission, released a 400-page report. Climate Ready Boston details the consequences of the changing climate. And what researchers found could be catastrophic; reminiscent of the destruction left behind by Superstorm Sandy in New York and New Jersey.

    “If something like that were to happen in Boston; that wipes out our North End, that wipes out our Downtown Crossing that, wipes out our Financial District,” said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

    A team of researchers mapped out what’s at risk. Climate Scientist Mathew Barlow has been studying climate change in the country’s northeast region for decades.

    “There’s just a level of flooding that happens with the storm surge and the wave activity that’s the higher than Boston’s low-lying ground,” said Barlow, who teaches at UMass Lowell.

    “A lot of the T, the openings to the subway tunnels, are at ground and close to ground level and a lot of those could be flooded in a major event,” added Barlow. “There would be communication problems, there would be sanitation problems, and the electrical grid could well fail.”

    The city’s latest outlook indicates sea levels will rise a foot-and-a-half in the next three decades.  Levels could be three feet higher by the turn of the century. And in the event of a major storm, up to six feet of water can rush into the city. That would mean $20 billion worth of real estate and the homes of at least 16,000 people could end up inundated. Blackmon says the city is now taking the data and putting engineers to work.

    “By coming up with conceptual designs for flood protections. Whether it’s in East Boston, in Charlestown, in South Boston, to give us an understanding of what the cost would be and how feasible they would be,” Blackmon said of the design drafts expected to be released early next year.

    Blackmon’s office is training residents to understand the information and share it with the community in neighborhood sessions.


    Meds aid in recovery


    Meds aid in recovery

    A Herald article highlights the important debate on harm-reduction initiatives for opioid use disorders (“Boston eyes safe sites for addicts” June 6). Unfortunately, the article also furthers the stigma around addiction by repeatedly using the term “Methadone Mile.”

    The statewide Association for Behavioral Healthcare strongly objects to the use of that term to refer to an area of Boston that is home to a major teaching hospital and other health care organizations including two methadone clinics. All of these facilities provide much-needed services to our community.

    Methadone is a lifesaving medication used to treat individuals who struggle with a chronic disease that is treatable. Medication assisted treatments, such as methadone, bridge the biological and behavioral components of addiction. Research shows that a combination of medication and behavioral therapies can help sustain recovery.

    And these medications help reduce mortality while patients begin recovery.

    We urge the Herald to stop using this derogatory term that denigrates a neighborhood and feeds a stigma associated with substance-use disorders.

    — Vic DiGravio, president and CEO, Association for Behavioral Healthcare, Natick


    Local AMR Emergency Medical Technician Honored With Star of Life


    Local AMR Emergency Medical Technician Honored With Star of Life

    By Anne Craig

    NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A veteran of the War in Iraq and AMR Paramedic Supervisor Mike Turcio has been selected as a 2017 Star of Life by the American Ambulance Association. Turcio is one of 100 recipients nationwide to receive the award which is considered the highest honor an emergency medical service professional can receive. It recognizes the dedication of ambulance services professional across the country.

    The highest praise I could receive is recognition from my peers. I am honored they nominated me for Stars of Life,” said Michael Turcio. “It’s a real pleasure to represent American Medical Response, meet my senators and congressional representatives, and get to know some of my colleagues from across the country.”

    Turcio is passionate about supporting and recognizing others who’ve served. Mike organized a ceremony last year to honor veterans working in his operation and designed a special challenge coin for veterans in Connecticut’s EMS industry. Mike also regularly leads efforts to create and send care packages to soldiers deployed overseas.

    Mental health for first responders is another of Mike’s passions. Mike has been part of several panel discussions related to identification and treatment of first responder stress, and has organized team meetings with Yale’s Critical Incident Stress Management Team. Mike makes a point to check in with colleagues who’ve responded to critical incidents and to connect them the initial and ongoing support they need.

    American Ambulance Association President Mark Postma notes, “Across our great nation, EMS professionals provide life-saving health care every day. This year’s Stars of Life recipients represent the very best of our profession, and we are proud of the positive impact they have made.”


    On the former Medieval Manor site, a bookstore with a mission


    On the former Medieval Manor site, a bookstore with a mission

    By Megan Woolhouse

    Raise a toast, the former Medieval Manor, boarded up for more than a year, will come to life again as a sprawling used bookstore with an unusual social mission.

    It will be run by More Than Words, a nonprofit whose employees are youth from troubled backgrounds who often live in foster homes and homeless shelters.

    Moreover, the owner of the building on East Berkeley Street elected to give More Than Words discounted rent instead of giving in to the tide of gentrification washing over this corner of the South End. The five-story brick building is surrounded by some of the most expensive new real estate in the city, with its neighbor, the Troy, charging as much as $4,600 for a unit.

    “This is 100 percent the convergence of everything right in the world,” said Jodi Rosenbaum, who founded More Than Words 13 years ago. “You don’t see that very often.”

    More than Words already had a small store on the second floor of the building, above where Medieval Manor had run its boozy period feasts for 35 years before closing at the end of 2015.

    The building has been owned by Stuart Rose for decades, who agreed to lease Medieval Manor’s former space to More Than Words at below-market rate for 13 years. Rose declined to be interviewed, saying through a spokesman that he didn’t want to be “knighted” for his good deeds.

    In a statement, Rose said More Than Words is “a fascinating, exciting, and unusual retail addition to this changing neighborhood” and he offered the “below-market cost to support their contribution to the community.”

    More Than Words describes itself as a social enterprise, and provides on-the-job training for youth who have faced problems in court, at home, or in school and struggled to find work. More than 70 percent of its youth have been involved with the foster care system and 40 percent in the courts. The teens also receive intensive case management working with counselors, who help them work through issues and identify goals.

    The books — 2.4 million of them last year — are donated by libraries and other institutions and individuals and sold either through its stores in the South End and Waltham, or online at Amazon, eBay, and Alibris.

    Employees are people such as Phedora, an 18-year-old who would give only her first name. She came to the country from the Dominican Republic when she was 14 and currently lives in a foster home in Dorchester. She said the work experience and assistance she’s received from More Than Words helped get her into Bridgewater State University this fall.

    “We support each other,” she said of the staff. “You’re free to be yourself here and grow in so many ways.”

    The first-floor space will need a significant renovation after decades as a bawdy haven for Renaissance meals. More Than Words has launched a $5 million fund-raising campaign, and Rosenbaum said Liberty Mutual has already donated more than $1 million after its chief executive, David Long, visited the facility.

    “We are particularly excited that they’ll be able to grow to serve 60 percent more youth,” Liberty Mutual Foundation president Melissa MacDonnell said.

    Plans call for installing a modern glass storefront at street level that will showcase the retail bookstore, as well as the warehouse facility where the teens manage all the logistics. The 10,000-square-foot space will also have room for community events that can be rented and is big enough to host a film festival. There will also be retail space for jewelry, food, and other goods made by social enterprise companies, Rosenbaum said.

    More Than Words staff will unveil its plans at a community breakfast Friday featuring Mayor Martin J. Walsh and break ground later this summer.

    Kim Zeuli, senior vice president of the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, a Roxbury nonprofit, said the big question is whether the neighborhood will respond by shopping there. She thinks that’s likely, noting that young, socially minded people have moved to the area, and expects many of them to be drawn to the bookstore because of its uniqueness.

    “But you just can’t predict it with total certainty,” she added.

    Rosenbaum is moving full-steam ahead. A training space inside the operation will host people from other cities and states interested in recreating the program in their communities. Such inquiries are not unusual, she said.

    “Usually when it comes to big dollars and corporations and real estate, it doesn’t come out with our kids as winners,” she said. “And they’re going to triumph here.”


    Boston seizes clean energy opportunity


    Boston seizes clean energy opportunity

    IT’S BEEN A sobering few months for clean energy advocates. Despite the Trump administration’s disdain for programs and policies intended to lower the carbon emissions that threaten the safety and well-being of the nation, Boston and like-minded cities are surging ahead to take advantage of the economic, health and other benefits inherent in a carbon-free economy.

    We now know that there is unstoppable momentum in the city and state-driven clean energy markets – enough to keep renewables alive and growing through the next four years and beyond. According to the Energy Information Administration, renewable energy accounted for 70 percent of new energy capacity added in the U.S over the past two years. And it’s a trend that is expected to continue.

    Local and regional clean energy-focused economies, together with a coalition of major international corporations that have pledged to run all of their operations with 100 percent renewable energy, see enormous opportunities. We’re in a new ball game, with a big upside for Boston.

    Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said recently that if the Trump administration withdraws from the Paris Climate Agreement, he will push for the 128 U.S. mayors who are part of the Global Covenant of Mayors to join in its place. And why not?

    Cities account for more than 70 percent of global energy use and produce roughly half of greenhouse gas emissions. More than 80 percent of global Gross Domestic Product is generated in cities, according to the World Bank. Actions that cities and large companies take will drive the global carbon economy as much, if not more, than national actions.

    Moreover, the world’s mayors are in a fundamentally different position than the federal government relative to climate change impacts. They’re on the front line – every day. Like Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, city leaders have an immediate and direct responsibility to their residents who, as it turns out, don’t so much care for scorching heat, nuisance flooding, superstorms, drought-induced water rationing and other climate-driven problems.

    Boston, which is part of the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance and other international city-based carbon reduction initiatives, is at the forefront of carbon mitigation and climate resilience planning and action. Walsh’s Climate Ready Boston initiative has provided the most thorough and rigorous future impacts analysis of any city in the nation. Now, he is rolling out an action plan to address those impacts. A detailed carbon reduction plan, Carbon Free Boston, is not far behind, in collaboration with the Boston Green Ribbon Commission.

    In Massachusetts, the Green Communities Act and other legislation have benefitted the state’s economy year after year. According to the latest report from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, the clean energy industry accounts for more than 105,000 jobs in the Commonwealth, contributes $11.8 billion to the Gross State Product, and has grown by 75 percent – or 45,000 workers – since 2010. This squares with national data showing that clean energy-related employment gains are far outpacing overall US job growth. Talk about putting America back to work! And there’s plenty more growth to be had in Massachusetts, not least as our world-class offshore wind resources come on line.

    The Trump administration’s retreat from clean energy won’t prevent us from continuing to grow clean energy in Boston, or from making progress toward Massachusetts’ commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050 – goals that mirror Boston’s own targets.

    As both the president of Ceres, a Boston nonprofit mobilizing business sustainability leadership worldwide, and a founding member of the Green Ribbon Commission, which focuses on sustainability in Boston, I see climate actions at the global and local levels every day. My commission colleagues – leaders of hospitals, universities, real estate companies and energy providers – all know what it takes to move business forward through challenges.

    After years of hearing about high clean energy costs, we’re now in a new paradigm where clean energy (both wind and solar) is cheaper than fossil fuel energy in many parts of the country. Global corporations such as Google, Walmart and Microsoft know that fossil fuels do not represent a long-term energy strategy – and so does Boston. Too bad Washington can’t see it, too, but that won’t stop us.

    Mindy Lubber is president of Ceres and a founding member of the Boston Green Ribbon Commission.




    Green electric vehicle test drive at Healthy Melrose

    Get behind the wheel of the new Chevy Bolt or a Sonata Plug-In Hybrid at the May 13 Healthy and Sustainable Melrose event, taking place at the Melrose High School athletic fields from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

    Mirak Chevrolet and Hyundai will have an all-electric Bolt and a plug-in hybrid Sonata available to test drive as part of Mass Energy’s Drive Green program which offers discounts on the purchase of electric and hybrid vehicles at participating dealers all over Massachusetts. The Bolt is the latest addition in a growing market of electric vehicles and features a maximum range of 238 miles.

    In addition to the Drive Green electric vehicle test-drives, the Melrose Energy Commission and their partner HomeWorks Energy will register homeowners for no-cost MassSave home energy assessments. Volunteers will also be on hand to talk to residents about going solar and adding their roof to the list of 300 homes and businesses with rooftop solar in Melrose. Be sure to check-out the recently released baseline greenhouse gas inventory for the city of Melrose and share your ideas on how we can reduce our emissions as a community.

    Healthy Melrose always offers opportunities to learn more about healthy and sustainable living. Eight Sustainable Melrose organizations will be at the fair providing demonstrations, activities for kids, and plenty of give-aways:

    • “Bring Your Own Bag” will be the focus at the Melrose Recycling Committee booth. Learn about their initiative to reduce the use of plastic bags in the city as well as tips on proper recycling and how to support efforts to increase recycling in our community.

    • Friends of the Middlesex Fells Reservation will have a leading environmental scientist at their booth to engage visitors. Stop by to get a map of the Fells or to learn about their newly expanded program offerings for kids of all ages.

    • Pick up free seeds from the Melrose Seed Library, a project of the Melrose Community Garden, or sign up for space in the new community garden at Franklin Field.

    • Go for a hike after the fair on one of several trails maintained by the Melrose Conservation Commission. Open Space and Trails Pocket Guides will be available at their booth.

    • Environmental justice is the topic of the day for the Universalist Unitarian Green Sanctuary Committee. Stop by their table to learn how to make a difference.

    • Volunteers from Sally Frank’s Farmers’ Market will get your home garden started with lettuce seedlings. Buy a carrot yard stake (or three!) to support the market.

    • Check out the bike maps and learn about upcoming bike events from the folks at the Melrose Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee booth including Bike to the Sea on June 11.

    Moreover, Healthy and Sustainable Melrose will not only be “talking the talk,” but will also be “walking the walk” by making the fair a “zero waste” and “zero carbon” event. Bins for the proper disposal of bottles, paper, and other items will be located around the fair, and the electricity used during the event will be matched with clean and local wind power made possible by Mass Energy Consumers Alliance

    To sign up to test-drive an electric vehicle at Healthy Melrose, look for the Drive Green table near the entrance to the fair. More information on the Drive Green electric vehicle discounts, which are in addition to up to $10,000 in state and federal incentives offered right now, is available on MassEnergy’s Drive Green website


    Prouty Garden advocates sue state over public record request


    Prouty Garden advocates sue state over public record request

    By Jessica Bartlett

    A group that's fighting the demolition of a beloved garden at Boston Children’s Hospital is suing the state, saying there may be a connection between the state's approval of the demolition last October and the hospital's participation in a new pilot program around the same time.

    The lawsuit by the Friends of Prouty Garden in Suffolk Superior Court against Marylou Sudders, the secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, alleges the state refused to give petitioners documents it requested under the state’s Public Records Law.

    It's the latest move in a longstanding dispute over the Prouty Garden, a half-acre plot of land at Boston Children’s Hospital that has already been demolished to make way for a $1 billion new clinical building.

    According to Gregor McGregor, an attorney for the plaintiff who has also been a spokesperson for the group opposing Boston Children’s Hospital expansion, the group is seeking several documents related to the state’s communications around the Boston Children’s Hospital state approval — also called a Determination of Need, and communications relating to the state’s desire to have Boston Children’s Hospital join a pilot program for MassHealth to care for patients on a budget.

    McGregor said the governor approved Children’s project at roughly the same time the hospital said it would participate in the pilot program. He reasons that there may be a connection.

    “I’m not drawing inferences. I’m connecting the dots,” McGregor said. “That’s what this suit is about.”

    The suit references meetings Gov. Charlie Baker had with Children’s CEO Sandra Fenwick, and also discussions he had with Sudders about that meeting.

    Endowed in 1956 by a family, the garden had served as a healing space for children and their families. Advocates also say the ashes of at least two children who died in the hospital had been spread in the garden.

    Despite opposition, and an ongoing court case against the project, the state’s Department of Public Health approved the expansion in October 2016. Demolition of the garden began in December.

    Opponents appealed but still lost injunctions to stop demolition. McGregor said he’s still hopeful that the garden could be restored, or at the very least that the decision to approve the project would be rescinded.

    “(My clients) want the integrity of (state’s approval process) upheld,” McGregor said. “They want the agency to review under its jurisdiction the project with no exceptions, and… this is designed to daylight how this went down. We’ll see what the facts lead to.”


    The Shadow-Casting Winthrop Square Tower Is Taking a Step Forward


    The Shadow-Casting Winthrop Square Tower Is Taking a Step Forward

    By Spencer Buell

    The controversial plan to build a new tower in Boston that would cast shadows on Boston Common and the Public Garden has been updated, and will soon be sent to the city and state officials for approval.

    A proposal from Boston Mayor Marty Walsh will be presented to city councilors this week, according to the Globe, and if it’s approved, it will then be sent to state lawmakers.

    It would reportedly include a state law designed to make it more difficult to build buildings that cast shadows on Copley Square. It would nix the so-called “shadow bank,” a policy that has allowed some buildings to cast smaller shadows on the Common, for good. And it would call for a more comprehensive study of downtown zoning—a move many activists called for in the past because they say development is too often happening on a piecemeal, case-by-case basis.

    The proposed 775-foot tower would be the latest from Millennium Partners, the same firm that built the Millennium Tower not far away in Downtown Crossing. If approved, it would rise from the site of a worn-down government-owned parking garage that has long sat idle at 115 Winthrop Square.

    But in order for it to be built at the height sought by developers, state lawmakers need to grant Millennium an exemption to a decades-old state law that bans buildings from blocking sunlight on the public parks. According to current plans, the tower’s shadow would sweep across both parks for much of the year as the sun rises over the city, on average for about half an hour, and at most for more than an hour and a half.

    The project has spawned opposition from activists for public space, the Friends of the Public Garden, and critics who say the city is too cozy with developers and too willing to make exceptions to rules for big-money builders.

    City Hall has touted the project because it would bring $153 million in benefits to the city ($101 million initially and the rest over time, tied to revenue collected at the property). That money would be earmarked for benefits to public space and housing, including $28 million for the Common, $28 million for Franklin Park, $11 for the Emerald Necklace and $35 million total for affordable housing renovations in East Boston and South Boston. It would also bring a surge of property tax revenue.


    Lured by $153M deal, mayor aims to change state law for Winthrop Square tower


    Lured by $153M deal, mayor aims to change state law for Winthrop Square tower

    By Catherline Carlock

    In exchange for allowing a tower at Winthrop Square that would result in a big windfall for the city, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh on Monday expects to file a home rule petition that would limit height and density for future buildings proposed in the city’s Midtown Cultural District.

    Walsh will call for amendments to state legislation governing shadows on the Boston Common and Public Garden, the first in a series of steps that would ultimately allow for a skyscraper at the site of the Winthrop Square garage downtown.

    Brian Golden, the director of the Boston Planning & Development Agency, said the expected $153 million payout expected from Winthrop Square developerMillennium Partners is an “outrageously compelling” enough reason to alter state shadow laws that have been on the books since the 1990s. The city expects to allocate that funding toward Boston Common, Franklin Park, the Emerald Necklace and refurbishing public housing in South Boston and East Boston.

    “The benefits to the people of Boston will be profound,” Golden said. “This is a once in a multi-generational thing.”

    The Midtown Cultural District, which runs south and east of the Common and Public Garden, has an existing “shadow bank” developers tap into when proposing new buildings that would cast shadow on the two parks. The home rule petition calls for the 1.15-acre parcel at 115 Winthrop Square to be treated as part of the Midtown district, using up all the remaining “shadow bank,” which would restrict both height and density at future buildings proposed in the district.

    The home rule petition also calls for a downtown planning study, which would likely guide new zoning standards for the downtown neighborhood and allow the city to get an advance read on future development sites that could generate shadows. Millennium Partners would partially fund that study, Golden said.

    Millennium has proposed a 775-foot tower at 115 Winthrop Square, currently the site of a dilapidated city-owned parking garage. As part of the deal, Millennium is expected to pay the city $102 million ­for the acquisition of the garage, while another $51 million to the city is dependent on revenue generated by the tower.

    “In that public ownership there is a really magnificent return to the people of Boston, and the people of Boston would not get such a return on the development of a private parcel,” Golden said.

    The home rule petition does not outline a specific height for a tower at Winthrop Square.

    At its longest duration, the proposed tower at Winthrop Square would cast shadow on the Boston Common for more than an hour and a half during certain periods of the year; the average shadow duration is between 35 and 37 minutes, according to two shadow studies done on the proposed tower.

    The topic of the shadows cast on the Common and Public Garden by a Winthrop Square tower has been a hot-button issue in recent months, with critics arguing that altering state legislation to allow for a single development sets an inauspicious precedent where well-capitalized developers can seek one-off exemptions for projects. Indeed, 13 representatives of neighborhood parks associations wrote as much in a letter dated March 21 to the Boston City Council.

    “The development proposed for Winthrop Square threatens the historic greenspace heart of the city – Boston Common and the Public Garden – not just with shadows from this one building, but the precedent it sets for other developers to seek exemptions for their projects,” the 13 representatives wrote. “As parks advocates we are all concerned, because a threat to one greenspace is a threat to all, and what happens to one can happen to others.”

    Elizabeth Vizza, executive director of the Friends of the Public Garden, said last week that her organization looked forward to reviewing the legislation.

    “We are continuing to work with Mayor Walsh and the BPDA to ensure that a final resolution provides broad, permanent protections for the city’s landmark parks and minimizes the impact of shadows from the proposed Winthrop Square project,” Vizza said.

    The home rule petition will be read at the Boston City Council meeting this Wednesday and then referred to a hearing at the government operations committee, the BPDA said. Following its time in committee, the petition would be voted on by the City Council; if it passes, Walsh would sign the petition and send it to the state Legislature. Golden said the BPDA felt confident in the petition’s successful passage at city council.


    Advocates oppose construction of tower casting shadows over Boston Common, Public Garden


    Advocates oppose construction of tower casting shadows over Boston Common, Public Garden

    By Abigail Freeman

    Months after the City of Boston selected Millennium Partners’ proposal to develop a multipurpose tower at 115 Winthrop Square, advocates for public landmarks continue to fight against this construction, as it violates state shadow laws, according to Liz Vizza, executive director of the Friends of the Public Garden, an organization dedicated to improving Boston’s public parks.

    The site at Winthrop Square is currently occupied by a four-story parking garage that was condemned in May 2013, according to a statement from Millennium Partners.

    Millennium Partners was selected by the city on Aug. 3, 2016 out of six different submissions from development teams, according to the statement.

    Millennium Partners submitted their proposal in March 2016 for a tower up to 725 feet “that must contribute substantially to the image of downtown Boston’s skyline [and] that is emblematic of the future of Boston’s downtown,” according to the statement.

    Vizza said the Winthrop Square project would damage Boston’s parks if exempt from the state’s shadow laws.

    “This arrangement sets … a standard for allowing the shadow to have a permanent impact on these parks,” Vizza said. “This shadow alone isn’t going to kill these parks or the horticulture, but it adds more shadow on parks that are already shaded.”

    The city will receive a total of $153 million from Millennium Partners with the tower project, and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh has determined that the first $102 million will be invested into Boston parks and affordable housing, according to a fact sheet from the Boston Planning and Development Agency.

    While the Friends of the Public Garden recognizes that Walsh will use the money from Millennium Partners to improve Boston parks, Vizza said the funding should be obtained without compromising the protection of the parks.

    “Since they’re the people’s parks, the people deserve a voice in deciding how they’re protected and how the city grows with them at the heart of the matter, thinking innovatively about how we can revitalize this garage site,” Vizza said. “We can get the financial benefits for the city that we all agree are a good thing while strengthening and protecting these parks.”

    Vizza said Boston has grown as a community in terms of evaluating projects and their impact on resources since state shadow laws were put in place for the Public Garden in 1993 and the Boston Common in 1990.

    “Those two laws were put in place that provided for robust development over the last two and a half decades while protecting these parks from excessive shadows, which means that there are allowable shadows,” Vizza said.

    The Friends of the Public Garden have met with the BPDA to discuss development in accordance with the shadow laws, Vizza said.

    “We continue to have a respectful disagreement about this project, but a close partnership with the city on all things regarding these parks and how to preserve them and enhance them, and encourage people to use them in the right way,” Vizza said.

    Vizza said she hopes this project will not start a trend of future projects that will be exempt from the law to be built.

    “[The Winthrop tower project] also creates a blueprint for another proposal in the future, and another either developer or future mayor to see this as an opportunity to amend the laws for their building,” Vizza said.

    A shadow will be cast over the Boston Common and Public Garden as a result of the tower’s height, although according to the fact sheet, the shadow will not qualify for the shadow bank, which is the maximum amount that a shadow can exceed the limit under state law in the Midtown Cultural District.

    Several Boston residents expressed varying opinions about the idea of a new tower in Winthrop Square.

    Matthew D’Intino, 24, of Back Bay, said residents could see a decrease in rates for rent as a result of the condos in the new building.

    “The added supply of condos should drop rent prices, which I think will benefit everyone,” D’Intino said. “It’s also good to see the city growing.”

    Christine Dornbach, 33, of Fenway, said the tower would change the atmosphere of the Winthrop Square area.

    “I would think the tower would stop [Winthrop Square] from having a more residential, homey feel,” Dornbach said. “I would say people in Winthrop are probably upset about it.”

    Olivia Shelton, 20, of Brighton, said she does not see the need for another apartment and office complex, especially if it is being built at the expense of a landmark like the Public Garden.

    “I don’t see how it could cause too much damage but I also don’t see it as a good thing for people to live there if it’s just going to be another expensive apartment building that only people in their 50s can afford,” Shelton said.

    Tags: 115 Winthrop SquareAbigail FreemanBack BayBoston Commonboston mayor martin walshBoston Planning and Development AgencyBrightonChristine DornbachCity of BostonFenwayFriends of the Public GardenLiz Vizza,Matthew D’IntinoMidtown Cultural Districtmillennium partnersOlivia SheltonPublic Garden


    Don’t drape our iconic public parks in shadows


    Don’t drape our iconic public parks in shadows

    By Elizabeth Vizza, Special to the Reporter

    One of the world’s most livable cities, Boston is known for the iconic parks that make up its heart, providing welcome open space in our urban environment while contributing to the physical and mental well-being of our residents and acting as a tourist hub to support our local economy. Boston Common and the Public Garden are parks for the entire city, sought-after destinations for thousands of Bostonians every day of the year. The Garden, with its Swan Boats, is world-renowned, and the Common has served Boston as the center stage of its civic life for centuries.

    Since 1990, two state laws designed to prevent “shadow creep” from high-rise buildings have worked as intended – successfully protecting the Common and the Garden, while allowing robust development to continue downtown. Now, 25 years later, our landmark parks face a new challenge as the city of Boston seeks a one-time exemption to allow for a 775-foot luxury condominium and office high rise that will violate both shadow laws.

    Millennium Partners’ proposed building at Winthrop Square is poised to cast a morning shadow that at its greatest extent would stretch almost a mile from the Financial District down the middle of Boston Common, through the heart of the Public Garden, and onto the Commonwealth Avenue Mall. The city’s proposal to amend the state laws in order to allow this building is short-sighted and creates a dangerous precedent.

    Legislation that allows a one-time pass to skirt the law in exchange for one-time revenue will create a blueprint for future developers to entice the city to sell more shadow on our landmark parks.

    Over the last 25 years, a tremendous amount of development throughout downtown Boston has occurred within the restrictions established by these laws without the creation of excessive shadows. This developer’s own tower in Downtown Crossing and the Ritz Carlton development are both examples of new buildings that have invigorated our city while conforming to existing shadow laws.

    The proposed 55-story luxury tower - taller than any other residential building in Boston - would violate the shadow laws 264 days of the year on the Boston Common and 120 days on the Public Garden. No amount of fertilizer and water can correct for lost sunlight - an asset that is important not just for horticulture, but also for the thousands of people who use these parks daily as they commute to work, relax and recreate, and join with others to celebrate or exercise their rights of free speech.

    There is no ignoring the millions promised to come to the city in one-time revenue as part of the sale of the city-owned Winthrop Square garage - money the mayor has said would support public housing and several city parks, including the Common and Franklin Park. But citizens of Boston should not have to choose between protecting our iconic parks on the one hand and supporting needy citizens or critical funding for our green spaces on the other. Let’s not pit neighbors and needs against each other.

    One reason Boston is growing at a record pace is its quality of life, and the ability to use and enjoy these parks is key to what makes Boston livable and desirable.

    The Common and Public Garden are, after all, the people’s parks, and the people deserve a voice in deciding their future. We need to work collaboratively and think innovatively about how we can revitalize an old garage site and reap financial benefits for the city while strengthening and protecting our signature parks. With the talent and resources we have in Boston, we should be able to find a solution to this challenge. Let’s preserve these parks that we all enjoy, now and for generations to come.

    Elizabeth Vizza is the executive director of The Friends of the Public Garden, which works to protect and improve Boston’s first public parks — the Boston Common, the Public Garden, and the Commonwealth Avenue Mall.