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Old tank farm in East Boston could become new home to marine businesses and parks

The BPDA board today approved a plan to turn the one-time Hess tank farm off Condor Street into new facilities for three local marine companies, a tot lot, a dog park and a monument to a Revolutionary naval battle in Chelsea Creek.

The East Boston Community Development Corp. will now work with its architects to build new homes for Cora Electrical Services, which maintains drawbridges in the Boston area, Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina and Semper Diving and Marine on the eight-acre parcel.

East Boston CDC Executive Director Al Caldarelli said all three companies are owned by East Boston residents. He praised Cora Electrical owner John Zirpolo for his role in recruiting and paying to train East Boston High School students for high-paying jobs as electricians.

Caldarelli said key to the proposal was minimizing the amount of truck traffic through the neighborhoods - one of the competing proposals would have been for a road-salt depot, similar to the one across Chelsea Creek - another would have taken organic wastes and converted it into biofuel and fertilizer.

In addition to the company space, the East Boston CDC will also build a tot lot - there is a day care next door - a dog park and an as yet designed monument for the Battle of Chelsea Creek, which he said was the first American naval victory in the Revolution. He said that issue now comes up routinely at meetings - people wonder why Charlestown has a monument to their battle, while East Boston doesn't.

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A dark, creepy place being updated. I'd hope to see the City make lighting improvements along the whole length of Condor to discourage illicit behavior.

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Increasingly, in East Boston, resident activists are seeing a troubling trend: we fight for opportunities for environmental progress, then are shut out of planning and discussions and end up never getting a good piece of the rewards.

The Hess site is another example. Residents drove the improvement of that land and now feel shut out of the process of developing it.

What do community members want at that site along the water? There have been many ideas and well-thought out proposals for open space, historic monuments, harborwalks, beaches, boating and any number of healthy ideas over the years. Residents have long held out hope for that site, so long degraded, to become a source of good.

Now we will see if the new BRA behaves any differently from the old as we watch if and how residents are offered a real chance to see their open space, climate change and community development concerns addressed.

In other words, are we going to get a bite at this apple?

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