Long Wharf Legal Update: National Park Service Confirms “Park” Map; State Hearings Scheduled

Last we left the legal wrangling over the open space at the end of Long Wharf, the “North End Ten” group of residents notched a win in December 2013 when Superior Court Judge Fahey remanded the case back to the State’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). By vacating the Chapter 91 permit, this action effectively blocked the Boston Redevelopment Authority, at least temporarily, from developing the area including a once planned waterfront restaurant known as “Doc’s Long Wharf.”

The State agency is now ordered by the court to consider new evidence presented by the North End resident group in their attempt to “Save Long Wharf” by showing that it is legally protected as a public park and open space. The BRA is likely to continue making its own case toward a license that would allow for development.

National Park Service 6(f) boundary map for LWCF project at Long Wharf

Perhaps the strongest new evidence to be considered is a 1980 map and designation by the National Park Service that identifies the space as a park project funded and protected by the Land and Water Conservation Fund. On January 30, 2014, the NPS confirmed the map and the State’s own submittal of the Long Wharf LWCF project application. The State letter includes:

“…the project has been approved by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. The Downtown Waterfront Park, project #25-00160, was one of the first major public waterfront park efforts and now the Long Wharf project serves to expand the City’s efforts to create extensive harborfront public access and amenities.”

This is important because the LWCF Act contains strong provisions to protect public investments against conversion to other than public outdoor recreation uses. The boundary map clearly shows the seaward end of Long Wharf part of the Section 6(f) LWCF project boundary.

In its case at the Supreme Judicial Court, the BRA argued that the space was not technically a park and therefore not protected by certain State regulations, such as Article 97 that would require legislative approval for development.

In 2008, the BRA received an initial Chapter 91 license at Long Wharf from the DEP and leased the property to Michael Conlon’s East Drink Laugh Restaurant Group for “Doc’s Long Wharf,” an enclosed 4,655 square-foot waterfront restaurant with outdoor cafe tables. Shortly thereafter, ten North End residents challenged the license to preserve what they considered to be protected open space and parkland. The case eventually made it to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court that largely agreed with the BRA but sent the case back to the lower Superior Court that has now remanded it back to the State’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

A pre-hearing conference at the DEP state agency is scheduled on February 14th and the full hearing is set for March 27th.

Shown below are the letters and descriptions to be considered in upcoming hearings as to the protection of Long Wharf as a park and open space. Mr. Sanjoy Mahajan is the lead plaintiff representing the North End Ten resident group.





Follow the history of the six year case here on through the tag, Doc’s Long Wharf.


9 Replies to “Long Wharf Legal Update: National Park Service Confirms “Park” Map; State Hearings Scheduled

    1. Please this is such a waste of time. That place would be amazing and such a great addition to the area.

  1. I really enjoy going to the end of Long Wharf and listening to the sounds of the harbor. A restaurant would just make it like Hanover Street. Let nature sing!

  2. There are signs prohibiting skateboarding but it is not enforced. Probably so the city can convince people that giving it over to private restaurant would be better. And frankly, I don’t mind the kids having fun as long as they don’t destroy the property. Better than some yuppie bar.

    1. the skateboards and bikes were a problem YEARS before they proposed the restaurant. The do destroy the granite walls and leave waxy marks all over the seating areas.. I would rather have a yuppie restaurant by the water than have the offspring of suburban yuppies ride the train in to Boston to terrorize and destroy our parks because they cannot skateboard in their hometowns.

  3. Thank You North End Ten..This space is designated as a park. We have several hundred restaurants but few parks.

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