By John Lynds
At a Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) sponsored meeting on Monday night at the library, three proposals to develop the former Hess City on Condor Street along the Chelsea Creek were pitched to the community.
The industrial parcel of land that once housed storage tanks for Hess Oil is zoned as a Designated Port Area (DPA) so a majority of the activity at the site needs to be marine industrial use.
Three developers, City Wide Organics, the East Boston Community Development Corporation (CDC) and the Eastern Salt Company from Chelsea, put together solid maritime focused uses with community benefits, but the crowd seemed to be leaning towards the CDC proposal.
City Wide Organics submitted a proposal to convert the property into a organic waste recycling plant that will convert waste into renewable energy and fertilizer. They also plan to create public outdoor space around the perimeter of the plant much like the MWRA Deer Island facility in Winthrop.
Suzy Chen, founder of Citywide Organics, said the project will manage food waste, yard waste and similar non-hazardous organic materials generated and collected within the City of Boston and surrounding communities in a way that promotes renewable energy, environmental sustainability and other tangible benefits for the City and the local community.
Consistent with the City’s and the BRA’s preferred uses for the site, the project will also return the site to commercial waterfront use by substantially rehabilitating and repurposing a pre-existing bulk fuels delivery pier to enable transport of organic wastes and finished green products to and from the property via the Chelsea Creek and Boston Harbor.
However, residents had concerns over what sort of smells could be caused by the plant’s operations. Residents also had concerns about truck traffic, although it was projected to only generate 10 truck trips per day with most of the traffic using barges and the Chelsea Creek. The overall look of the plant, despite the nicely landscaped greenway, was also of concern with some residents saying that it took years to get the Hess oil tanks torn down and didn’t want to see industrial tanks City Wide would construct on the site.
Other community benefits included a four seasons community greenhouse for prospective use by Eastie residents– affording them an opportunity to grow vegetables and other plants for their own use.
The second proposal, which garnered a lot of support at Monday’s night meeting, was pitched by the CDC. CDC head, Al Caldarelli said the CDC would be the long term lessee of the property and would use the space to consolidate three existing Eastie businesses looking to expand.
Caldarelli said his proposal would limit traffic, cause no odor and create jobs in the community. The CDC plans to build three buildings as well as a tot lot park, harbor walk and dog park as community benefits. The three buildings would house three longstanding Eastie businesses. These businesses include John Zirpolo’s Cora Group, an expansion of Dan Noonan’s already successful shipyard and marina on Marginal Street and Peter Merullo’s Semper Diving and Marine.
All three businesses have roots in marine industrial use with Cora Group responsible for repairs and operations of bridges in the area, The Boston Shipyard and Marina on Marginal Street would expand their boat repair work in the neighborhood and Semper, a commercial diving and marine operation, would like to expand boat storage and repair opportunities in Eastie.
The last proposal of the evening, and the one that got a lukewarm reception from residents, was Eastern Salt of Chelsea’s plan to place a ‘buffer’ salt pile, like the company has across the Meridian Street Bridge in Chelsea, on the Hess Site.
The salt would be barged over from Chelsea and distributed around the region during winter storms. While Eastern Salt did have community benefits like a harbor walk and outdoor green space, it was the fact that the property could generate 40 to 50 truck trips per day during the height of winter storm activity that had many really concerned.
Despite Eastern Salt’s best efforts to win the crowd over with community benefits, many residents on Eagle Hill said they did not want to look down on a 50 foot pile of salt all year long.
Suzy Chen, founder of Citywide Organics wants to build an organic waste recycling plant that will convert waste into renewable energy and fertilizer
East Boston Community Development Corporation head Al Caldarelli discusses the CDC’s plans for the Hess Site.
An architect for Eastern Salt pitches his company’s plan.