Last week, several East Boston organizations joined onto the recently launched Coalition for a Resilient and Inclusive Waterfront.
The coalition plans to educate candidates for office and voters on issues impacting Boston’s waterfront in the 2021 municipal elections, with a specific focus on resilience, inclusivity, access, and economic vitality on Boston’s harbor, islands, and rivers.
So far East Boston Main Streets, East Boston Social Centers, GreenRoots (who fought the Eversource Substation plans in Eagle Hill), Eastiie’s Harborkeepers, the Jeffries Point Neighborhood Association, NOAH (East Boston Neighborhood of Affordable Housing, the Piers Park Sailing Center, The Trustees of Reservations (working on the creation of East Boston Piers Park Phase III), the YMCA of Greater Boston and the Boston Society for Architecture have all joined the coalition.
The Coalition plans to work together to create programming and engagement opportunities with voters and candidates to explore the issues facing the waterfront and elevate them in the citywide discourse.
The Coalition plans to host a mayoral forum focused on waterfront issues on Thursday, July 29th at the New England Aquarium. The event will be open to the public.
“To address the intensifying threats of Climate Change, such as extreme temperatures and sea-level rise, Boston will require a determined, all-hands-on-deck union of visionary thinking and intrepid actions,” said NOAH Executive Director Philip Giffee. NOAH has been working on climate issues for nearly a decade now. “The Coalition for a Resilient and Inclusive Waterfront sees the future as one in which ALL Bostonians can benefit from working together to both preserve and create our beautiful and vital waterside assets, which build not only our economy but enhance our spirits as well. Boston’s next leaders will need to fully embrace the hard, collaborative work it will take to conceive of and build the inclusive vision Boston and the region require. The Coalition stands ready to champion and support such leaders.”
East Boston Social Centers Executive Director Justin Pasquariello said while the agency is proud to serve children and families in Eastie, Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop–each of these communities is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and sea level rise.
“Our headquarters in Central Square in East Boston already borders a flood zone,” he said. “We are grateful for the leadership of this coalition in drawing attention to these important issues and ensuring access to a high-quality vibrant waterfront for the diverse members of our communities.”
The Coalition also released the results of a poll conducted by The MassINC Polling Group, which surveyed 635 likely voters on a host of topics related to the Boston waterfront. The poll showed that 87% of voters say that they support the creation of new open spaces for public use on the waterfront; 83% of voters say they support additional city government funding for climate change protections for specific neighborhoods in Boston; 81% of voters support the city government creating a set of climate change and community benefit standards for all developers who want to build on the Boston waterfront; 38% of voters think the city’s racial diversity is reflected in activities on the waterfront; and 55% of respondents think activities and dining on the water are affordable.
“The residents of Boston deserve a world-class, accessible, and inclusive waterfront. The coming months give us an opportunity to think big about what’s possible, and encourage bold action to preserve and create new public open space around our City’s harbor,” said Acting President and CEO, the Trustees of Reservations Jocelyn Forbush. The Trustees are currently working with the Eastie community on the creation of Piers Park Phase III. “We hope to use this moment to educate our leaders and all of those in Boston who can benefit from what the waterfront has to offer about the potential of one of our most valuable public resources.”
Waterfront Initiative Coordinator for GreenRoots John Walkey added that for an environmental justice organization like GreenRoots it is critical that the group is taking the appropriate measures to ensure that the waterfront is not only prepared for coming coastal impacts from climate change, but also remains accessible to and a benefit for the communities that live near them. GreenRoots has been actively fighting the proposed Eversource Substation planned for the City Yards in East Eagle Square along the Chelsea Creek.
“Displacement of low income and BIPOC communities comes in many forms and our well intentioned efforts to ensure a resilient coastline can easily result in negative impacts for our communities, which is why this Coalition’s work is crucial to ensure that these issues are aired and that these communities have a seat at the table for these conversations,” he said.