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End of Long Wharf on Boston's Waterfront

A group of neighborhood residents, locally known as the “North End Ten,” scored a major win in Superior Court against the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA). The action stops the development of a proposed 220-seat waterfront restaurant, Doc’s Long Wharf, on the end of Boston’s Long Wharf, subject to a possible appeal. In a June 10, 2011 ruling, shown below, Judge Elizabeth Fahey agreed with the North End Ten’s arguments and voided a Chapter 91 license granted to the BRA by the State’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

The North End Ten, as plaintiffs, argued the BRA-owned space on Long Wharf is “public waterfront parkland” and therefore protected by State law Article 97 which states that “agencies shall not change the control or use of any right or interest in Article 97 land” without approval by the State Legislature.

In 2007, the BRA announced a lease to “Doc’s Long Wharf,” for an enclosed 4,655 square-foot waterfront restaurant with outdoor cafe tables. The BRA was granted a license by the State’s Department of Environmental Protection under Chapter 91 laws. The North End Ten appealed to the DEP, but that was subsequently denied on January 15, 2010, clearing the way for the proposed restaurant.

In late 2010, the North End Ten turned to the court system to pursue their case based largely on protection under Article 97. Potential issues raised by the residents include excessive noise, damage to public open space/parkland and impairment of scenic quality on the wharf.

Doc’s Long Wharf’s owner Michael Conlon was recently given a 60-day extension by the Boston Licensing Board to resolve the non-use of its alcohol license at the 80 Long Wharf space. The delay was to allow for the Superior Court ruling. Conlon is also co-owner of the Paramount and 21st Amendment in Beacon Hill.

The BRA and DEP may appeal the ruling. Another alternative would be to go through the State Legislature per Article 97, similar to the process used to lease out the Pink Palace space on Boston Common and the Duck House in the Back Bay Fens.

The Massachusetts Superior Court judgement on the case is shown below.

 

 

Update on Tuesday, June 21, 2011:

As a follow-up, the following documents are available for viewing:

Click here to view a copy of the judge’s memorandum of decision (pdf, 12 pages).

 

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9 COMMENTS

  1. I guess the judge thinks skateboarders terrorizing tourists and locals during the day, homeless people drinking and drugging and hookers turning tricks at night turning the North End 10's beloved "park" into a scary place to be is better then a restaurant that would bring activity to discourage the bad behavior on Long Wharf. Unfreakin believable!

  2. "Incredulous" needs to get out more. I was down at Long Wharf on a beautiful evening last week and there were no skateboarders and no hookers turning tricks – just a bunch of regular folks quietly watching the boats go by without having to purchase a $15 martini for the pleasure. (Some of them could have been homeless – can't tell just by looking.)

  3. Nowhere in any presentation that I heard about Doc's Longwharf did I see ALL of Longwharf taken up by the restaurant and anyone needing to purchase a $15 martini or a $3 soft drink. It would have been nice to have a restaurant that was actually on the water.

  4. Such a shame. Boston has such a great harbor and there are hardly any restaurants right on the water. I guess whatever that building is will just go to waste. Sounded like a great plan for the space.

  5. A Shame, really? Keeping a wide tract of public space open to everyone. That's a shame? With literally hundreds of restaurants in a stone's throw, there is no need to fill in every corner of the waterfront with commercialism. I say, well-done!

  6. Boston does have a great harbor. The clean-up that returned it to that condition was funded with public money. The plaza at the end of Long Wharf is designated as park and open space–public space. As a park, it is protected by law, and there is a legal procedure for changing its use. It's a shame that those responsible for protecting public space chose to circumvent this procedure.

    Skateboarders and the homeless create problems in many public spaces and parks. Privatizing public space for commercial use won't solve the problem. It will move the problem to another location. I don't favor sacrificing open public space to solve social and enforcement issues.

  7. My point it is that the existing building is useless. I have never seen anyone out there. Is there a plan for something else there? I like public space too but that is a waste of space.

  8. I;m glad the "10" won. And yes I have ssen people use that space – tourists, sun bathers, joggers, stollers, mothers pushing carraiges.

  9. Congratulations to the "10" it hard work to go against big business. During the day that point is full of people , this is only 1 of very few places one can see toward the neck of the harbor without owning a highrise , or being in one of the plush restaurants . I remember "back in the day" sitting out on the old wooden piers having a sweeping view of north and south , of where the inlet of Christopher Col. park is . Just look at the coast line its built up from the courthouse to the coastguard station. On the hottest day there is still an ocean breeze curling around that point , Must everything be built up.
    I will bet the people FOR this Doc's project obove , have their own personal view , and couldn't care less about the people less fortunate,and unable to enjoy a personal view of a beautiful harbour. How many more restaurants do we need around here
    tucker

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