A group of local residents, loosely referred to as the “North End Ten,” celebrated the recent federal court ruling against the Boston Redevelopment Authority and its plans to lease the space at the end of Long Wharf for a restaurant development. The NE10 have been fighting the BRA since 2008 to keep the area as an open space park, in what the judge referred to as the Long War of Long Wharf.
Joining the Long Wharf party was retired National Park Service employee, Ed Rizzotto, who became involved in 2012 when he read news of the case and reminded his former employer of a 1980 map showing the space was protected under the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act. The map became the centerpiece in the court battle when the BRA subsequently sued the NPS. In September 2015, the US District Court favored the National Park Service in its ruling, confirming Rissotto’s contention that the Long Wharf Pavilion was part of the 6(f) restricted area in the 1980 map and established by a LWCF grant.
The disputed space at Long Wharf includes the existing open brick pavilion and surrounding open space on the waterfront currently used for recreational use as well as emergency Blue Line egress. The BRA planned to build a 220-seat, 4,655 square-foot restaurant/bar with outdoor tables, in a development previously referred to as “Doc’s Long Wharf.”
Contributing to the Long Wharf Park celebration, Mr. Rizzotto donated a new picnic table and placed it under the brick pavilion area for public use. The table is marked with the following, “This picnic table is a gift to Long Wharf Park and all the people who visit. -On behalf of the North End Ten, their families, neighbors and colleagues.“
The North End Ten group recognized lead member Sanjoy Mahajan by having bumper stickers made for the celebratory occasion, stating “Our Physicist Can Beat Up Your Lawyers.” Mahajan is an Associate Professor of Applied Science and Engineering at Olin College of Engineering and Visiting Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT. He continued to work tirelessly on the legal aspects of the Long Wharf Park case even after he and his family moved from the North End to Cambridge.
More chapters may be written and battles fought in the Long War of Long Wharf. The BRA still has time to appeal its loss against the NPS in federal court. One reason they may pursue an appeal is with regards to the surrounding areas at Long Wharf. The federal judge did not rule specifically on whether the 6(f) boundary protects the entire cross-hatched area on the 1980 map that covers much more than just the open space pavilion. Notably, the Long Wharf area is currently under review for “revitalization” as part of the BRA’s ongoing Downtown Waterfront Municipal Harbor Plan.
Evidence continues to be found supporting Long Wharf’s designation as protected 6(f) open space. Mr. Rizzotto provided us with these two additional 1983 communications regarding the status of the area.
The memo below from the US Department of the Interior National Park Service determined that that construction of the shade pavilion at Long Wharf did not constitute a conversion under 6(f)(3) of the L&WCF Act and “will not have significant impact upon the recreational utility of the wharf.”
Another letter, shown below, from the BRA to the State’s environmental office states its understanding “that it is necessary to receive approval from the Park Service for granting such easements under the 6F Conversion provision” also referring to the “integrity of the park.”
Stay tuned for upcoming news bulletins. You can follow the story here in our previous coverage of the “Long War of Long Wharf”.