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February 2012 Meeting Notes

Historic Resources Committee Meeting Notes for February 9, 2012


Present: Bill Barry, Susan Brauner, Greg Colling, Marilyn Fenollosa, Lori Ferriss, Jack Glassman, Steven Gribbin, Meghan Hanrahan, David M. Hart, Susan Hollister, Wendall Kalsow, Sarah Kelly, David Kelman, Doug Manley, Henry Moss, Judith Neiswander, John Nunnari, ___Olson, Susan Pranger, Susan Schur, Regan Shields Ives, Lynn Smiledge, Malcolm Smiley, Jonathan Smith, Drew Sondles, Jay Stanbury, Cory Trembath, Eiliesh Tuffy, Sara Wermiel, Tim Withers, Gary Wolf

1.  Massachusetts Senate Bill 2053 - Proposed Changes to Massachusetts Historical Commission Review and Enforcement: Committee members who attended the Joint Committee’s hearing recounted their experiences and observations, noting the day-long unwinding of testimony, the delegation of Fall River students from the public school system, and the range of topics -- from the specific details of the Meditech site’s review process to the broader effect on the economy of the Commonwealth if “inventoried” properties were removed from MHC review. David Hart described Secretary Galvin’s presentation at the hearing. Several people observed that the real estate development community had begun to organize its support for limitations on the MHC’s review authority through NAIOP, its professional association. John Nunnari, Executive Director of AIA Massachusetts, had spoken to members of the Joint Committee and noted that they seek further testimony on both the positive and negative aspects of project review at the MHC. John characterized the BSA’s intent as being an “honest broker” in a controversy.

Several people proposed that the HRC’s testimony and that of individual letters to the Joint Committee should only address S. 2053. Henry noted his concern that it would cloud the discussion and confuse our opposition to the Bill if our testimony and correspondence were to present examples of good and bad MHC experiences. Others noted that the hearing may already have introduced that confusion, at a fundamental level.

It was noted that that the Freetown exemption (“Clerk #4”), proposed as an amendment to the Supplemental Budget, had been denied. However, a vote in Freetown for a Home Rule exemption for the Meditech site was scheduled for February 9th. [The proposal was voted through at town meeting and sent to the Legislature for approval.]

Gary Wolf told our committee that Senator Susan Fargo had called him to discuss S.2053 in response to his letter urging her not to support it and that she intends to oppose the Bill. In the meantime, Henry, Sara, Greg, and Jack urged individuals to write to the Joint Committee and also to their Representative and Senator, to voice and articulate their opposition to the Bill. The Joint Committee address was printed on the agenda:

Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight Senator Kenneth J. Donnelly and Representative Peter V. Kocot, Chairmen Massachusetts State House Room 413D (Senate) Boston, Massachusetts 02133


2. Boston Landmarks Commission - Susan Pranger, Chair of the Landmarks Commission, presented a comprehensive assessment of the BLC’s tasks and accomplishments over the course of 2011, and described the staff’s work plan for 2012. Gary Russell, Staff Architect, had prepared a presentation that can be used to explain the duties and workings of the Commission to other departments and interested parties (e.g. our committee). Susan began by defining and describing nominations and Study Reports for Boston Landmarks, examples of which include the designation of the Christian Science Center Complex and Study Reports on the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Elizabeth Peabody house and the Charles River Speedway site. Petitions for the YMCA on Huntington Avenue were denied, as its significance does not extend to the state or national level. Blessed Sacrament Church in Jamaica Plain and the Alvah Kitteridge House on Fort Hill are examples of properties on the BLC “watch list.”

A parallel line of effort was consumed by 80 applications for design approval, from which 38 design reviews covered $47,772,000 in construction. The BLC has an interesting breakdown of construction values by historic district or architectural conservation area, illustrating the pattern of investment across the city.

The demolition delay process is another avenue for Commission involvement, often with properties that may not include design professionals.

Wendall Kalsow commented on his interaction with the BLC over past decades, praising the Commission for the consistency of their views and the time-frames of their reviews from district to district, and other voices around the table rose in assent.

3. Other Business

Worcester State Hospital Tower: After constant pressure from Worcester preservation forces, DCAM officials have agreed to save and rebuild the clock tower as a monumental remnant of the former Kirkbride hospital, but shorn of the rest of the tower building.

• Longfellow Bridge: Several people noted that the plans to rehabilitate the bridge are slated to include dismantling its granite towers (the “salt and pepper shakers”) and reassembling them around an internal steel frame. As this approach is not always necessary or successful, further inquiry seems warranted. [Henry will try to discuss this project with the Cambridge Historical Commission prior to the March meeting.]

• Dodge House, Beverly: Sarah Kelly reported that the house will not be demolished, but will be integrated into the new development.

• Bandstand near Plymouth Rock: The proposal for a new bandstand had not been formally submitted to the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), and the situation does not appear to be dire.

• Wood in the 21st Century: Technology & Conservation conference, March 24-25, 2012.

Next Meeting

8:00 a.m., Thursday, March 8, 2012


Reflections on the Legacy of Mayor White: Faneuil Hall Marketplace

by William L. McQueen, AIA

Professor of Architecture, Roger Williams University

Henry Moss, Matthew Bronski, Gregory Colling, and Sara Wermiel co-leaders and scribes Jack Glassman will be the committee leader starting in March