As the City waits to hear from the state bureaucracy regarding its recently-completed Harbor Plan for the Chelsea Creek waterfront, City Manager Tom Ambrosino and officials from various City departments hosted Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito on a walking tour of the Creek – a tour that they hope might help the City get some leeway in the state review process.
Ambrosino, Planning Director John DePriest, Planner Karl Allen and City Councilor Roy Avellaneda accompanied Polito and several state officials to the PORT Park for a discussion of what the City would like to see along the Creek – something that is spelled out in the Harbor Plan.
Those plans include more access points to the waterfront, like at PORT Park, as well as some wiggle room on the Designated Port Area (DPA) boundaries so as to promote development on private land and public land.
“These points of access along the industrial waterfront are very important to us,” said Ambrosino. “This area was historically inaccessible to Chelsea residents for a long time. One goal we have in reviewing the Harbor Plan is to create more of these kinds of points of access so residents can get access to the waterfront alongside the industrial uses.”
The tour was sparked by a $125,000 grant from the state Seaport Council to help pay for the Harbor Plan process and submission. Work on the plan began more than a year ago, and after several public meetings and other reviews, the Plan was submitted earlier this year.
Ambrosino and DePriest said the Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) is now commenting on the final draft of the Harbor Plan, so there is still time for changes and alterations.
One piece of wiggle room Ambrosino touted to Polito is a small piece of City-owned land next to the Chelsea Street Bridge. With some small change in the boundary of the DPA, he said the land was ripe for development that would help the City and improve access.
“There is a little piece of land by the bridge and with a little help it is ripe for development,” he said. “We just need a little flexibility from CZM to make that development possible.”
Allen noted that they hope CZM will relax some of the boundaries on Eastern Avenue so they can construct a Boardwalk area to help with coastal resiliency and also promote more access points.
“We are hoping to have a continuous HarborWalk,” he said. “Some of the areas lie in the DPA and we need CZM to change some of those boundaries so we can create something like a Boardwalk.”
It is expected that a full review of the Harbor Plan will take place this summer, and there will be a comment period in the fall. Once CZM finishes with its review, the Plan will go to the City Council for a vote.