The city took its first steps toward establishing a Metropolitan Harbor Plan (MHP) with the state of Massachusetts on Monday night, when they kicked off the Harbor Planning process with the first of two public hearings at a meeting on the third floor of City Hall.
According to James Errickson, the director of planning and development for the city, the consultant chosen to help develop the MHP was selected and is under contract through casino developer Steve Wynn, who has agreed to fund the development of the harbor plan as part of the mitigation package for his proposed resort casino on lower Broadway.
“Monday night’s meeting was really to go over the process, explain to people what a harbor plan is, why it can be important and what we expect to get out of the process,” said Errickson.
According to Errickson, Fort Point Associates is the harbor planning consultant who was hired to develop the plan with the assistance of an appointed harbor planning committee and public input through the public hearings like the one Monday night.
Errickson said there will be at least two more public hearings on July 17 and September 11, while the Harbor Planning Committee is scheduled to meet at least six more times.
“The goal is to have the plan ready for final review and presentation at the September public hearing, after which we can submit it to the state’s Coastal Zone Managementm for review and approval.”
At its base, the Harbor Plan is a tool the city can use to maximize the use and benefit of it’s waterfront for residents and visitors to the city. Even if the casino proposal is not ultimately awarded a license by the state, the city will be able to use the MHP to improve its waterfront and focus on other potential waterfront uses and developments.
Errickson also noted that despite the fact that the MHP is being drafted by a consultant who is paid for by Wynn, the city will be able to review the plan as it is developed and make changes as needed.
“The city is under contract with Suzaki and Associates to provide peer review to the MHP process,” said Errickson. “They’re not really involved at this level, or with the development of the plan, but we do have them under contract to review the plan, to make sure that it technically meets the city’s needs, as well as those of the developer.”
The MHP is not only a useful tool for the city, but Wynnn’s proposal to build his resort casino on the lower Broadway site, includes proposals to develop water borne transportation from the site to points such as downtown Boston, the Boston Convention and Exposition Center (BCEC) and Logan Airport.
The MHP will be a key part in determining what sorts of water borne infrastructure will be needed at the site to make those parts pf the resort proposal a reality.