Thursday, September 16, 2010

City responds to issues around former Hess site on Condor Street

Ernani DeAraujo of the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services responds to a recent article in the Boston Globe detailing a dust-up between City Hall and local residents over the Hess oil farm site on Condor Street.

The recent stories in the Globe and East Boston Times about the former Hess site owned by the BRA were incomplete. I hope the following gives a clearer picture of the issues:

The Boston Redevelopment Authority (“BRA”) applied for funds to transform parts of Chelsea Creek into saltwater wetlands. The funds, derived from a legal settlement over oil spilled in the Chelsea Creek by ExxonMobil, are managed under the North American Wildlife Conservation Act (“NAWCA”). The BRA hired a grant writer to apply for the NAWCA funds and hopes to be awarded money to transform 5 acres of City of Boston land along the Creek. The City has experience in saltwater wetland creation from its work at Belle Isle Marsh. Contrary to the concerns of some, wetlands will NOT cause flooding on Condor Street. In fact, they could help water management.

As for the former Hess site, which used to house oil tanks, that parcel is slated for the creation of green technology jobs along with a direct public connection to the waterfront. The BRA originally purchased the site to prevent a heavy industrial, polluting company from buying the land. In January, the Eagle Hill Civic Association will help determine the design and usage of the site.

The BRA is optimistic about attracting a green jobs tenant, as Boston has been nationally recognized for its work on Climate Change and the development of “Clean technology” jobs. A green jobs company will help create new, good paying jobs for East Boston and the City will be able to take advantage of the multi-billion dollar investments of the Green Jobs Act of 2007 and American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to create green jobs.

Finally, Eagle Hill residents have clamored to reduce or remove truck traffic and create more pedestrian friendly areas on the hill. Earlier in the year, at the request of residents, the City unanimously rejected a zoning board proposal by a developer seeking to create a new towing company on Condor Street.

Condor street’s future is bright as it was fully repaved this year; is awaiting the implementation of traffic calming measures; and will experience relief from truck traffic once the multi-million dollar Chelsea Street bridge is completed next year.