The Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) pulled the proposal to discuss turning the Condor Street Hess Site into the city’s snow farm during this upcoming winter from last week’s agenda following political pressure from Eastie’s elected officials.
Senator Anthony Petruccelli, Representative Adrian Madaro and City Councilor Sal LaMattina all vehemently opposed the plan to turn the BRA-owned Hess Site, which sits on the shores of the Chelsea Creek in a residential neighborhood on the backside of Eagle Hill, into a snow dumping ground. However, the city is still asking Eastie’s elected officials to work with the BRA to find a suitable site for a neighborhood-only snow farm.
“In the interest of making sure preparations for winter are underway early, the BRA and other city agencies have been considering locations for potential snow farms in Boston,” said the BRA’s Nicolas Martin. “After hearing local concerns about using the Hess site for this purpose, we are setting up a meeting with East Boston’s elected officials before we take any further action.”
Eastie’s environmental activists said the idea of the BRA talking to local elected officials is a great one but added that BRA officials are also welcome at the Eagle Hill Civic Association meetings up at the High School, on the 4th Wednesday of the month.
“We at East Boston Environmental, Grupo Ambiental Latino and the Chelsea Creek Action Group (CCAG) would love to speak with them,” said NOAH’s Chris Marchi. “We’re actively promoting increased access to East Boston’s waterfront. This year alone, we’ve held over 15 days of waterfront programming and brought over 1,500 residents out on boats. We’ve held a community regatta and historic Revolutionary War Battle Re-enactment along the Creek, the Parks Department has recently renovated the City Yards and they’ve even placed rest room facilities down there. So we’re very invested in that part of our neighborhood. The idea of a snow farm at the Hess site? I haven’t seen any details of that plan, nor have any been presented at the Eagle Hill Meetings or CCAG meetings, but the proposal raises serious concerns about impacts on the residential community and ecology.”
Marchi argued that while we need to find a place to put the snow, those ‘farms’ produce much more than snow. Last year’s snow dumps collected vast amounts of garbage-day household trash and debris that had been plowed under and into the snow banks and scooped up along with the snow, so in addition to the visual impacts, odor problems would need to be considered.
“Trucking the snow over would be a huge concern,” said Marchi. “In an already traffic impacted congested family neighborhood, the addition of thousands of dump trucks operating in poor visibility and slippery conditions could have an extremely negative public safety impact. The North and West sides of the hill have been identified by the BRA as critically underserved by open spaces.”
The CCAG, which has for nearly two decades, worked to increase and improve community access to the Chelsea River’s salt water resources, has envisioned a redevelopment at that site which would promote important and health producing ecological and recreational uses there. In 2004, after an extensive community process CCAG released a vision plan for the Creek including open space uses for that site.
And again in 2008 CCAG proposed use of North American Wetlands Conservation Act funds to create a beneficial wetlands estuary there with recreational opportunities.
“We are actively reaching out to the BRA to learn of their plans for this site and to reopen discussions about the possibilities there,” said Marchi. “So hopefully, this will happen soon with the request they have made for proposals over there. We’re eager to discuss how we can partner with them to create community supported mixed use ideas at that site which will best take advantage of the tremendous potential as well as offer the most benefit to the residents of East Boston. East Boston Environmental, Grupo Ambiental Latino and CCAG membership is very concerned and upset that the BRA would propose a snow dump on this land, given our long activism and the efforts we are continuing to make to correct years of environmental degradation on that site. We believe we can do much, much better than use that land as a snow dump.