Long Wharf Park Case: A Dispatch from the Court House

Long Wharf looking up State Street

The proposed commercialization of public open space at the end of Long Wharf marked the sixth year of litigation on Friday, September 27 in a courtroom at Suffolk Superior Court. Ten North End residents in the case of Sanjoy Mahajan et al. vs. Boston Redevelopment Authority have challenged the Mass. DEP’s approval of BRA plans to install a late-night bar-restaurant within an existing shade pavilion at the waterfront park.

In a hearing spanning nearly two hours, presiding justice, Elizabeth Fahey considered the BRA’s and DEP’s arguments to dismiss the North Enders’ appeal of a hearing officer’s decision remanded by the Mass. Supreme Judicial Court for further rulings. The plaintiffs-residents presented documents and maps discovered after the SJC arguments which purport to prove that the entire parcel was originally reserved as parkland protected by Article 97 of the state constitution.

With a raised tone of voice, an assistant attorney general repeatedly insisted that the initial SJC determination of the inapplicability of Article 97 was binding and final regardless of new information. However, Judge Fahey firmly responded that the object of the court proceedings was not finality, but justice. She further expressed scepticism that the plaintiffs should have had the burden of “discovering important documents in a box in some basement.”

Plaintiff Sanjoy Mahajan, a non-lawyer, argued the plaintiffs’ position pro se and asserted that the city and state defendants had an ethical obligation to disclose newly-discovered documents that were potentially dispositive of the outcome. According to Mahajan, although rarely invoked, the court has inherent authority to allow new evidence into the record to prevent a miscarriage of justice.

Judge Fahey has taken the case under advisement and set October 30 as the deadline for submission of briefs.

Thomas F. Schiavoni is one of ten North End residents in the case of Mahajan et al. vs. Boston Redevelopment Authority pending in Suffolk Superior Court.