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Lowell Richards, An Appreciation

by Robert Strelitz

I knew Lowell Richards through my appointment by then City Councilor Paul Scapicchio  to the WDAC (Waterfront Development Advisory Committee).

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 with pride.

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 this opportunity?

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. 

 

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