Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Marty Walz's "Anti-Shadow" Bill

A bill authored by State Rep Marty Walz (along with Rep. Byron Rushing and State Senator Anthony Petruccelli) slowly moves toward passage in the State House. It is known formally as H. 853: A Bill to Protect Certain Parks, but sometimes just called the "Anti-Shadow" bill.

The draft legislation proposes that "no permit granting authority shall take any action which would authorize the construction of any structure which would cast a new shadow on the Charles River Esplanade, Christopher Columbus Park, Commonwealth Avenue Mall, Copley Square Park, Magazine Beach Park, or Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway," though some of the specific locations are still evolving. Proposed nearly a year ago, a recent public hearing has stirred the news.

Though Walz is a primary proponent and C-port contains significant frontage on Magazine Beach, the legislation's impact on our neighborhood would be minor compared to other parks. Most of Mag Beach lies to the south of C-port's buildings (and future buildings), so shadows are primarily cast away from the park. Memorial Drive further buffers the park. The CNA Board of Directors has drafted a letter of support for the bill, saying in part:
Cambridgeport residents have been very upset by the construction of tall towers adjacent to green, open parklands, which interferes with the enjoyable use of scarce open space for the benefit of a handful of property owners willing to sacrifice the beneficial and historic use of parks for their own adjacent development plans.
The bill would have significantly greater effect on potential development near some of the other proposed parks. It's hard to imagine development of any kind occurring in the financial district that doesn't cast a shadow on some urban parks, which is why the Rose Kennedy Greenway was recently exempted from the proposed legislation. Some in the Boston development and design community have expressed serious concerns about the bill's effect as a de facto building moratorium. Preservation advocates in Back Bay and the North End have expressed support. Walz herself wrote in the Boston Courant to describe her and Rushing's motivation for the bill.

A public hearing on the bill was held on December 15th, but those wishing to comment can still send emails to the Massachusetts Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee Co-Chairs and Rep.WilliamStraus@Hou.State.MA.US (cc: Rep.MartyWalz@Hou.State.MA.US and

Photo by Flickr user cosmocatalano. Used under Creative Commons.

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