New England Aquarium Statement Regarding the Harbor Garage Development Proposed by The Chiofaro Company and Prudential

Hello, I’m Vikki Spruill, President and CEO of the New England Aquarium.

Tonight we must ask ourselves a fundamental question:

Does this development truly meet our city’s ambitious vision as set forth in Climate Ready Boston to lead the nation in the area of climate preparation and planning, or, do we want to do the bare minimum and instead support private developer profits, one parcel at a time?  

With global sea level predicted to rise up to three feet in the next 50 years, we are at a critical turning point.  

Private interests of a developer must not override the public benefits for the City of Boston and its residents.

At the Aquarium, we educate and inspire others to take action to protect the blue planet, and we conduct rigorous research to find solutions to ocean threats.   

We carry out all of our work with an eye toward a changing climate. 

Climate change is at the heart of our concerns with the proposed development.

We respect and were actively engaged in the Municipal Harbor Planning process.

It is intended to protect entities like us—those designated as a “special public destination facility” and “water dependent use.”

During the MHP process, before any plans were available, we focused on protecting our institution from the financial risks associated with any potential development near Central Wharf.

With no concrete plans to respond to, we were explicit that we could not support the project.

During the MHP process, all we did was create a framework on two narrow and specific topics for which we have no agreement.

The MHP left much unaddressed.

Since the MHP was approved, much has changed.

The warnings of climate change and its impacts are stark. With every passing day, we learn more about how these risks are accelerating, and this means sea level rise, and, in turn, more frequent storm surges and flooding.

Here on our waterfront, we know this all too well. In 2018, flooding shut down the Aquarium MBTA station and the Aquarium for two days. 

In closing, the developer’s approach does not consider the impact of sea level rise on neighboring waterfront parcels or the larger downtown waterfront.

Now, having seen the PNF filed by The Chiofaro Company, we know that, even if we had entered into agreement about financial risks to the Aquarium, we still could not support this project.

What is at stake is bigger than the future of the Aquarium. This is about the future of the downtown waterfront. 

An integrated approach is the only way forward.

The downtown waterfront can be more resilient, more attractive, and more engaging as a public gathering place.

As a steward of Central Wharf for 50 years, and a voice for our blue planet, the New England Aquarium stands in staunch opposition to this proposed development. 

We must do better for our city and our world.  Thank you.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Pam Bechtold Snyder, psnyder@neaq.org; 617-973-5213