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FAC Letter to Mayor Menino

Fenway Action Coalition
P.O Box 230439
Astor Station
Boston, Massachusetts 02123-0450
(617) 437-1994

Mayor Thomas Menino
Boston City Hall
One City Hall Square 
Boston, Massachusetts  02201

25 August 1998

"I don't believe it's an issue.  What's the issue?  We haven't seen a plan
yet.  They're talking about  something . . .  they're shadow boxing with
nothing.  There's no plan out there.  What are they talking about?  What are
they concerned about?  We have Fenway Park there.  What's the big problem?"

Mayor Thomas Menino
Response to the formation of the Fenway Action Coalition
Fox TV-25, News at Ten
August 20, 1998

Dear Mayor Menino:

In a response to your evident confusion about our recent formation and
initiatives, the Fenway Action Coalition would like to reply to the questions
you have raised, and further clarify the nature of the problems in our
neighborhood, and the reasons for our concern.  Additionally, we would be very
honored if you would accept our invitation to meet with the community, at your
convenience, in order to address and better understand your position on the
following issues:

Fenway Park Megaplex
Despite your viewpoint that community concerns about this matter are
premature, FAC disputes the wisdom of waiting until this proposal, as
described in numerous press reports, for the construction of a 45,000 seat
stadium along Boylston Street with various ancillary structures, is a "done
deal" before mobilizing our neighbors and articulating our unequivocal
opposition to such a project.  Land deals, financing arrangements, and other
insider transactions and commitments, are already being made that have
bypassed the community's input and concerns.  FAC will not be distracted by
the details of a plan, such as whether parking facilities will be for six or
ten thousand cars, when the proposal for a fifteen acre Fenway Park Megaplex
in the midst of our densely settled residential community  is wholly
unacceptable.  Instead, FAC supports the implementation of the Kenmore Audubon
Fenway Neighborhood Initiative (KAFNI) which calls for the transformation of
Boylston Street into a mixed use, pedestrian friendly, low rise, residential
and commercial area that will serve the community's needs.  Efforts to
Disneyfy and recreate our traditional neighborhood as an entertainment super
complex for the convenience of tourists, commuters, and their cars, will meet
with impassioned and determined resistance.

FAC also wishes it to be understood that our opposition to this project is not
based merely on groundless fears.  Beloved as they may be by some, the Red Sox
have practiced a policy  of complete disinvestment in our community and
displayed a wholesale disregard for their neighbors in the Fenway.  Current
game day conditions approach near anarchy.  These present problems include
traffic gridlock, trash, noise, and vandalism.  FAC is committed to holding
the Red Sox accountable for the adverse quality of life impacts they have on
the Fenway and surrounding areas.  It is our contention that the construction
of a Fenway Park Megaplex in closer proximity to the residential community
would further exacerbate these already intolerable conditions.

Millennium Mega-Project
FAC is aware of your recent public comments about this project, where similar
to your remarks about the Fenway Park Megaplex, you expressed the sentiment
that the community's protests are premature due to the fact that a detailed
plan has not yet been revealed.  However, the Memorandum of Understanding
between the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority (MTA) and Millennium Partners
clearly dictates various "development" terms.  FAC is extremely troubled by
the existence of a signed agreement between Millennium Partners and the MTA
for a proposed $300  million, 700,000 to 1.2 million square foot, fifty
percent commercial and luxury condominium complex to be built on air rights
over the Massachusetts Turnpike near Tower Records.   Detailed objections to
this proposal have been clearly articulated by both the Citizens for
Reasonable Turnpike Development and Metropolitan Highway System Board
Chairman, Thomas Concannon.  Adverse effects of this project will include
negative impacts on the historic Fenway Studios, shadows, worsening traffic,
transit, and pedestrian conditions, and the further gentrification of our
community.  Although Millennium Partners are not obligated to present their
proposal until sometime prior to October 23, 1998, FAC does not believe that
it is necessary to have an artist's rendering of a project of this anticipated
size and scale to determine that it is an unacceptable one for our

FAC is outraged by the arrogance, unaccountability, and insolence that the MTA
has shown towards the residents of the Fenway and Back Bay.  Evidently
choosing to ignore its role as a public agency with collective
responsibilities, the MTA's avaricious efforts to maximize its profits without
consideration of the surrounding neighborhoods indicates a complete
dereliction of its duties.  

FAC is deeply disappointed, angered, and suspicious about the lack of public
process that this proposal has received.  Last week, a scheduled City Council
hearing about Millennium and turnpike air rights issues was abruptly canceled.
Some seven months after a master development plan was promised by your office,
during which time the Millennium proposal took various concrete steps towards
realization, a request for proposals was finally issued.  Additionally, we are
troubled and concerned by the fact that a representative CAC has still not
been appointed.  Apparent efforts to delay and sabotage public input on this
project have fostered a severe sense of mistrust in our public officials.  As
a consequence of these experiences, we are concerned and troubled that both
the master plan and CAC will function as rubber stamps for the MTA's
construction plans.

Rats & Sanitation
The Fenway Action Coalition is deeply concerned about the severe rodent
infestation in our community, and the lack of appropriate response by city
officials to this public health emergency. The rodent population in the Fenway
is currently estimated to be anywhere from three to ten times higher than
normal.  Each day, and particularly at night, residents and visitors alike are
faced with the frequent, frightening, and dangerous fact of encountering these
creatures on our streets, sidewalks, alleys, and other public places.  Some
buildings are already infested, and without swift intervention, this crisis
will clearly worsen as the cold weather approaches.

In July, members of the Burbank Tenants Association met with representatives
from your office of Neighborhood Services, Inspectional Services, Councilor
Keane's office, and others, in a proactive effort to address this problem.
Unfortunately, these officials were unable to commit the necessary resources
to enforce existing health laws, and to revise and strengthen the sanitary
code that makes these appalling conditions possible.

As evidenced from the wide public support that FAC's recent postcard
distribution has received, Fenway residents demand that these conditions be
met with the implementation of immediate, permanent, and draconian measures to
control rodent overpopulation.

FAC is distressed by the fact that our friends, neighbors, and associates, are
being systematically driven from their homes due to the skyrocketing costs of
housing in the Fenway.  We lament the daily loss of diversity in our
neighborhood and call upon the City of Boston to address real human needs by
increasing the supply of decent, stable, and affordable housing in our
neighborhood rather than the pursuit of projects such as those named here that
will further worsen these conditions and merely benefit a handful of rich and
powerful developers and institutions.

Traffic and Transportation
Clearly one of the most serious  aspects of the aforementioned mega-projects
is the additional traffic each will bring to our already beleaguered
neighborhood.  According to the most recent inventory, the Fenway/Longwood
Medical Area (LMA) contains in excess of 17,000 commercial parking spaces.
Estimates have indicated that over 40% of the Fenway's land use is dedicated
to parking facilities.  Unlike the rest of downtown Boston, and portions of
East and South Boston, the Fenway is not even included in the minimal
protection of the  City of Boston's commercial parking freeze which has been
initiated to force compliance with the federal Clean Air Act.  Despite vocal
neighborhood opposition, the Landmark Center, located next to the Fenway T-
stop, received approval to build an 1,800 car garage.  FAC wishes to intervene
now before such unsustainable and misguided policies are repeated at the
proposed Fenway Park and Millennium mega-projects.

FAC is concerned about the negative effects of excessive motor vehicle traffic
including unhealthy levels of air, water, and noise pollution problems in the
area.  The Kenmore Square area has measured some of the highest concentrations
of airborne particulates in the Commonwealth.  Motor vehicles are also
partially responsible for dangerously high levels of pollution in the Muddy
River.  Rush hour noise levels of over 100 db, louder than a riveter and
comparable to the sound of thunder, have been measured in the Fenway.

FAC is enormously frustrated by our members' participation in the recent
Fenway/LMA transportation study which largely ignored recommendations by
Fenway Civic Association, Fenway Community Development Corporation, Walk
Boston, and other parties, to improve pedestrian and bicycle conditions in the
Fenway, and to reduce its overwhelming emphasis on single occupancy
automobiles as a mode of transit.   For example, the draft version of this
document, evidently paving the way for a Fenway Park Megaplex, included in its
recommendation section, a proposal for a five to six thousand car parking
garage over the Massachusetts Turnpike.   This study, still months behind its
scheduled completion, also promised the formation of a Transportation
Management Association to oversee local conditions.

Despite the fact that the Fenway/LMA is the second largest employment center
in the region, after downtown Boston, there have been few if any efforts to
improve public transportation systems in the area.  The pathetically
underutilized Yawkey Way commuter rail station, which provides service in the
form of one round-trip train during Red Sox games, is in desperate need of
capital investment and increased utilization.  With the slew of "development"
projects proposed in the Fenway, the usual measures of "infrastructure" such
as road widening and increased parking facilities are unacceptable.

Planning and Community Processes
FAC is appalled by the intransigence, hypocrisy, lack of leadership, and
myopic vision that our public agencies and the vast majority of officials have
exhibited towards our community.  For example, the development of air rights
over the Massachusetts Turnpike has been consistently described as an
opportunity to repair the damage done and to reknit the adjacent
neighborhoods.  Yet in actuality, the only projects proposed  for these sites
would further degrade existing conditions.  Similarly, the series of BRA
sponsored Boston 400 meetings paid lip service to well known precepts of
successful urban planning.  However, this same agency has failed to criticize
or offer alternatives to the mega-projects on the drawing board for our
neighborhood, which will greatly determine the Fenway's future.  

It has become virtually a cliché now for local residents to describe their
neighborhood as one "in a state of siege."   In excess of thirty actual and
proposed projects have been proposed for the Back Bay and Fenway
neighborhoods.  However, it seems that each is reviewed in apparent isolation
from one another without benefit of a comprehensive planning mechanism.
Indeed, as described in a recent Boston Globe editorial, the Boston
Redevelopment Authority with simultaneous missions as the City's central
planning agency and as a promoter of economic development, is cast in the
dubious role of "a fox guarding the hen house."  Without intervention, the
cumulative effect of this duality in our neighborhood will be the construction
of a Manhattan-like, high rise spine from Copley Square to the Landmark Center
whose component parts are to include Millennium and the Fenway Park Megaplex.

Fenway Action Coalition is greatly disheartened by the lack of responsiveness
that the vast majority of our public officials have shown towards the
community that they have been appointed to serve.  The engaged citizenry of
the Fenway have been repeatedly refuted in our attempts to have a voice in our
community's affairs.  Individual letters, telephone calls, and e-mail have
been systematically ignored by our policy and decision makers.  It is our hope
that our united efforts to communicate the community's wishes under the banner
of the Fenway Action Coalition will present an opportunity for a more open,
responsive, and engaged dialogue between the residents of the Fenway and our

We look forward to working constructively with your office and other
representatives on the issues we have presented here, and hope that you accept
our invitation to address the community's concerns in person.


The Fenway Action Coalition Steering Committee

Jon Ball   Peter Catalano   Helen Cox    Suzanne Comtois   Rob Folan 

Penny Jacobsen   Bob McKenna   James Morgan   Richard Webster

cc:  City Councilor Thomas Keane,  Ms. Lisa Herrington