The North End Waterfront/Residents’ Association (NEWRA) held its August meeting on Thursday, August 13th via Zoom.
Old North Foundation:
Nikki Stewart, Executive Director of the Old North Foundation, provided an update on the recent suspension of operations at the historic Freedom Trail site due to low attendance during the pandemic. Visitor operations have been suspended through April 2021.
Stewart also announced that a new vicar will likely be arriving sometime later this Fall at Old North Church, with Rev. Eleanor Applewhite Terry continuing to serve as bridge vicar for the time being.
The Foundation received a PPE loan through the CARES Act but the lack of revenues has resulted in 25 of the part-time frontline staff being laid off or furloughed.
Capital projects during the shutdown are being focused on window restorations that will be completed by the end of October as well as the crypt restoration project which does not currently have an estimated completion date. As operations stabilize there may be focus put toward upgrading the narthex, sanctuary and the Washington Garden.
The gift shop is closed but may reopen sometime in September with potential popup experiences being explored. In-person worship may return in the autumn, and Old North is looking to support schools, students and teachers with digital content offerings.
210 Endicott St Elevator Extension:
Attorney Ryan Gazda, representing the Dello Russo Family, presented a petition seeking an extension of the building’s existing elevator to include ADA access to the roof deck. A recently disabled family member has caused the owner to revisit the design to allow for elevator roof access.
Touching on similar elements to those covered at the July NEWNC meeting, questions posed afterward touched on project dimensions. The revised elevator headhouse would add 7 feet, 8 inches from what was previously approved bringing the height to 66′ 2″ in total elevation. Michael Dello Russo replied that square footage of the elevator lobby is approximately 10 x 3 or 30-40 square feet with a total square footage of the headhouse on the roof being somewhere in the vicinity of 200-250 square feet.
Another question concerned the level of involvement from the ISD (Inspectional Services Department) or any other ordinance board. Dello Russo commented that they had not been prompted to pursue this extension as a result of the ISD.
With no abutters attending, a motion to support was raised and a vote by e-mail was undertaken.
Zoning, Licensing & Construction Committee Chair Victor Brogna reported on the BPDA (Boston Planning and Development Association)’s request for an amendment to the zoning code that would allow for variances or conditional uses relative to electronic billboards. The use of digital billboards is currently forbidden in most areas of the City of Boston, including the North End/Waterfront and Downtown. Following a brief overview of the current zoning regulations, Brogna requested NEWRA write a letter to oppose the proposed zoning language change.
The request met with majority approval.
14 North Bennett St. Project Update:
North End resident Thomas Schiavoni, spoke in opposition to the proposed balconies as part of the Epsilon Partners Project being proposed for 14 North Bennett St, the site of the old Saint Leonard’s church rectory. The development has drawn significant opposition from parishioners and neighborhood groups.
Schiavoni also discussed his penning an open letter to Mayor Walsh regarding the proposed conversion. He described the proposed installation of balconies as confrontative, disruptive, and an existential threat to a sacred space and house of worship.
Ellen Hume, an abutter, also spoke in opposition and commented how the project would negatively impact the streetscape.
The Boston Board of Appeals will conduct a hearing by videoconference on August 25 at 1:00 pm to review the developers’ application for zoning relief.
Greenway Conservancy Update:
Greenway Conservancy Director Jesse Brackenbury reported on the non-profit’s current state of operations and the status of the parks. Further updates can be found on the GC’s blog.
View the video:
View the meeting in its entirety by clicking here. The password is 2CUN%C?H