Richards, An Appreciation
by Robert Strelitz
I knew Lowell Richards through my appointment by then City
Councilor Paul Scapicchio to the WDAC (Waterfront Development
Despite the rather tortured path of the "Pier One" project, amply
chronicled elsewhere, I learned to respect Lowell Richards, and,
even more importantly for me, a proud East Boston resident for 42
years, I am convinced by Lowell's actions, not his words, that this
respect was mutual.
For the 13 years since the Committee was convened by MassPort,
Lowell was unfailingly informed, optimistic, and knowledgeable.
In the words of bluesman Junior Parker, Mr. Richards was a
"drivin' wheel." A lesser man would have easily become discouraged,
and sought to place blame for the project's delays on others Lowell;
Richards was patient and totally committed to the resident's goal of
a waterfront residential community that we all, Port Authority,
Roseland Property, and particularly we residents could sign onto
About 5 years ago, there was a false start. An architectural firm,
clearly tasked to come up with a money saving design to meet the
harsh, new economic realities had produced a design that echoed the
glass and steel look of the Manulife Financial building in the South
Boston waterfront. We and others throughout the community found this
design too industrial.
We objected strenuously, and let our feelings be known, loud and
clear in good East Boston fashion.
Rather than the "we know best" attitude we are all to familiar with
from years of community work, Lowell got the message, took it to the
developers, and a much improved design was brought forward.
Can this design be financed in this climate? Can we boldly seize
East Boston needs the economic diversity a first class waterfront
development could bring.
I am aware of the "sea level rise" concerns presently being raised
around development on the harbor front.
According to this theory, all of Marginal Street would be
submerged in 50 years. I don't know. I am no climate scientist, but
tougher engineering problems have been solved such as, say the
creation of the Back Bay from marsh land.
I think Lowell would have pushed ahead, solved the problems and
given East Boston the waterfront we deserve, and for which we have
worked so diligently.
We all should do no less.