I am not disagreeing with Tom Lochhaas’ editorial today, “What does ‘compromise’ really mean? He is totally true that this catch phrase is just a political buzzword that will, in the end, be stretched beyond recognition by this central waterfront debate.
But again, the big mistake and this is being echoed by others in town, is this fixation on ‘buildings’. By falling into this trap, we as a city will end up either having the same old parking lots as before or through force of unhappy circumstance, a bunch of large buildings next to the Firehouse and the park.
In other words, we will have found ourselves having the argument over either ‘buildings’ or ‘no buildings’. And there will be no compromise.
The entire discussion should be over ‘views’. That is how the Committee for an Open Waterfront proceeded years ago and won in court. And that is the main thrust in today’s latest attempt for moving forward between the two parties.
For example, In COW’s latest ‘concept:
buildings are allowed.
The park expansion is literally the same size as the NRA’s park expansion.
The parking options are still amply provided.
SO WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE!?!
The NRA wants to block many river views from the park, from the street and in the case of Green Street, partially from a streetscape. COW would like a building that continues westward the scope of buildings that surround Market Square, Merrimac and Water Street. (Something I might add, James Shanley has advocated for years.) In fact, before the Mad Men of Union Studios got involved, the conversation had some buildings up closer to the street.
In fact, the “View” is everything. Office and Retail space near an open waterfront will be sky high because everyone will be jostling for those open space views. This will make the Chamber, the City, developers and yes, our old friend, Karp; very happy.
This is why COW was present at the DEP hearing last week concerning the newly proposed Ale House Restaurant. They LOVE the plans for the 40 Merrimac Street reuse but hate the continued obstruction with a roofed deck that is presently a concrete expansion (illegally allowed years ago when the City was economically a mess) that blocks the Green Street view.
So basically, real compromise IS possible – just don’t mess with the VIEW!