Downtown View: Peace, Good Will

What do you want for Christmas? Maybe it’s the same as what I want. It’s peace. A refuge from vitriol. A haven from such absurdities as Stephen Bannon running the country and Ben Carson running HUD. A sanctuary from a nation that still appears to be fighting the Civil War in its red state/blue state configuration.

We won’t have that peace nationally. So I’m hoping we can find it here in Massachusetts. We’re in a good place. We welcome all comers. Democrats like the Republican governor, Charlie Baker. It feels as if he wants what is good for the commonwealth. Mayor Walsh also seems to promote policies good for a majority of the people.

Even if we don’t agree with these leaders on all matters, they are not corrupt, foolish, random, mean or narcissistic.

Most business leaders in Boston are also as good as you can get. They may or may not be people you’d want as friends and some of them may have inflated opinions of themselves, but as far as I can tell, no one here is running a place like Wells Fargo, where unreasonable goals set off fraud.

We can begin our peaceful, gracious, generous behavior with two items of contention—naturally they would be real estate developments. With the apparent blessing of the mayor and the Boston Planning and Development Agency, Millennium Partners wants to build a tower that, contrary to state law, will cast shadows on the Common and the Public Garden. I don’t know how, but let’s work this out.

The developers are not bad guys. They live here, and have done so for a long time. Early on they took a chance on what used to be known as the Combat Zone and built the Ritz Carlton Hotel and Residences, which helped transform that dingy neighborhood. Millennium Place may be ridiculed for its high-priced residences, but it is a substantial improvement over the mid-century Filene’s building that formerly occupied the site. And the developers saved the older Filene’s building. So they’ve not been bad for Boston.

The protectors of the Common are also not bad people. They are legitimately concerned about keeping the oldest park in the nation healthy, and that means it must have a certain amount of sunlight. The Friends of the Public Garden, which also helps keep the Common in good shape, are some of the best citizens in Boston, with selfless determination to make the parks work for Bostonians as well as the tourists who come to see what history is all about.

The other place that needs some cooperation is the Lewis Wharf Hotel. Let’s just stop the demonization of the developers and the opponents. This parking lot and the waterfront both need serious attention. I don’t have an opinion on the design but surely there can be a meeting of the minds over what is appropriate, what is a good treatment of the Harbor Walk and what will work for everyone. A hotel seems to be an appropriate use. Its design is mostly within the zoning. If people of good will can sit down and hammer out a solution, it would be good for the whole city.

This could sound fairly Pollyanna-ish. But 2016 has been such a terrible, mean, nasty piece of work on the national scene that it should end. Given our soon-to-be president’s nature, 2017 will probably not be better. Here, however, locally, we can reject that behavior. Almost all of us involved in these struggles are not in it for ourselves, but for the good of our city. Let’s sit down, agree to respect one another, and resolve disputes companionably.

We shouldn’t take the national scene as our model.

Downtown View is a column by newspaperwoman Karen Cord Taylor who founded The Beacon Hill Times in 1995 and served as its editor and publisher until late 2007. She also founded and served as editor and publisher of the Charlestown Patriot-Bridge and The Back Bay Sun weeklies. Karen now works from her home in downtown Boston and blogs at Please feel free to leave responses in the comments section below.

11 Replies to “Downtown View: Peace, Good Will

  1. Thanks for making me feel better today. We can be who we want to be; we can continue to be the model for good. And thank god, Canada is even colder than here!

  2. It’s annoying to listen to those who assume their opinions represent all. This election must have been a pretty bitter pill to swallow for Karen Cord Taylor.

    1. Karen Cord Taylor is expressing HER Opinion and does not claim to speak for anyone other than herself. It is her first amendment right. Unless Matt Conti, who is the owner of this blog, decides he will not let her post her columns on HIS blog, you have a choice to not read her column if you do not like it.

      1. This article has nothing to do with this neighborhood. Just another gentrified Beacon Hill opinion. Should be View from the Gated Community.

  3. I hope the North End Waterfront News doesn’t become a political rag. There are those of us who support this great newsletter and who are looking forward to our new president’s tenor. I don’t want to stop reading this newsletter because it becomes a liberal mouthpiece.

  4. You sound very hypocritical. You talk about peace but yet your words are so divisive and negative. Shame on you for advocating peace but being so negative about the President Elect. Both candidates had tons of baggage and we should have had better choices. Unless we come together as a nation, we are doomed by your subtle left wing garbage. Think America. Think patriotic. Partisan politics has ruined this country. From what you say, it sounds like your candidate lost and instead of healing the country, you are inciting more divisive feelings instead of extending an olive branch and giving good will a chance. The President Elect was not an ideal choice but certainly better than what the left wing Democratic Party has become. Only interested in political gains of the party and not of the Country. I am an independent voter who was a democrat for most of my life. It is a disgrace that the left has hijacked the once great Democratic Party. If you don’t respect the President Elect, at least show respect for the Office

    1. Hello Nico, very well put. I am also an Independent who vacated the Republican party for similar reasons to your own. If you look at the situation, the recent election was a repudiation of Washington politics. Trump was able to defeat senators, governors and ex-Secretary of State types, even rolled through the House Majority Leader. The diatribe above does not incite as much as it reaches out to drones and idiots that have no mind of their own, but will think as the Party demands. Deepest fears of both Parties is that we now have a President who spent less on the election than any candidate since the 1970’s. PAC’s, lobbyists and major financial interests feel they have less control as they bet the wrong horse. As for Karen Cord Taylor, her bets are worthless too, she is out of the money.

  5. Ignoring her political leanings for the moment, Karen may bring a “reasonable analysis” to some downtown issues, but she is dead wrong in her assessment of a hotel on Lewis Wharf as a “reasonable use”. The last thing the North End/Waterfront neighborhood needs is yet another hotel going up in the area. I bet if one of the developers that have “not been bad for Boston” were to propose a hotel in Beacon Hill on the banks of the Charles, Karen might be singing a different tune.

  6. So true David M!!!! I read Karen’s columns but her lack of understanding toward our neighborhood and its residents is getting annoying. Has she no respect for our precious waterfront? Or is she friends with people the developer has paid off like a lot of the other so-called supporters of the lewis wharf hotel development.

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