Last week, the head of the nonprofit Barr Foundation declared the area "in jeopardy" as a direct result of what he called rapid, uncoordinated development and a lack of long-term planning. To combat the trend, The Barr Foundation has pumped $800,000, so far, toward waterfront planning programs. Among the recipients, the Boston Redevelopment Authority, which is planning a study of the area.
Mayor Walsh said that he has high hopes for the effort. "I think what’s gonna be great and interesting and good about this study is that is there an opportunity for us to create more waterfront space. And by doing that, is there a way for us maybe to use some landfill and fill in some space and build some parks on the waterfront," said Walsh. He continued, "is there an opportunity for us to create something special?"
Canales further explained what he meant by "in jeopardy." "We believe that there are tremendous opportunities if we can take a step back, think about a long term vision and really shape what we want the waterfront to be for Boston." He said that one of the big issues is the "parcel by parcel" developments, and if they're a part of a larger plan and vision. "How do we meet the totality of the range of needs that the waterfront is so well situated to provide?"
While Myserson didn't agree that the waterfront is in jeopardy, she agreed that it is one of Boston's great assets. "This is more broad than just the South Boston waterfront," she said, and it includes all of the places where Boston touches the water. She hopes to now start a conversation, "What is our long term vision, what do we value on the waterfront?"
Myserson raised the issue of Boston being a coastal city and the environmental implications that come into play. Canales cited sea level rise as a big threat to the water surrounded Boston. "This is an area that is threatened. And therefore the decisions that we make about how we develop that waterfront have to be attentive to that reality," he said.
They both agreed that it is not too late to be having these conversations. Canales used New York and San Francisco as examples of cities with world class public spaces and waterfront development. "The reality is that the moment is now," said Canales.