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Business Manager’s Blog


John P. Dumas



John P. Dumas, the Business Manager of Local 103 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, represents more than 7,000 electrical and telecommunication members in the Greater Boston area.

A 37 year member of Local 103, Dumas is a seasoned and experienced leader. Along with serving as 103’s president for the past 18 years, Dumas served the union in a number of leadership roles, including business agent, member of the union’s executive board and trustee of the health, ANNUITY, pension, LMCT and JATC funds. He also has served as a member of numerous contract negotiation teams, playing a pivotal role in several major contracts governing members’ benefits.

Throughout his career he has shown a keen interest in nurturing younger union officers in preparation for leadership roles in the future, and his leadership style has always been one of inclusion and accessibility to all members.

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ZBA approves apartment complex along Arsenal


Wicked Local Watertown | By Charlie Breitrose
June 30, 2015

Elan Apartment ComplexWATERTOWN The Zoning Board of Appeals tackled two major projects this week, giving approval for a major apartment complex along Arsenal Street and, for the first time, reviewed plans for a proposed hotel on the East End of Watertown.

The Elan apartment complex at the corner of Arsenal and Irving streets would have 282 apartments and more than 10,000 square feet of retail space. This was the second hearing for the project in front of the ZBA, and the board unanimously approved the development.

Some work still remains because the project includes a half-acre park that has yet to be designed. The project was the first to go through the town’s new design standards and guidelines, and ZBA Chairwoman Melissa Santucci Rozzi said she is pleased with the outcome. “Thank you for your investment,” Santucci Rozzi said. “We are extremely fortunate to have a developer of your caliber in town. Most communities would beg to have them in their community.”

The project will transform a former industrial site into a modern residential complex, said ZBA member Chris Gannon. “I grew up in this community and saw it as an active brick yard with train cars coming through,” Gannon said. “I am pleased with the outcome.”

The ZBA saw a few changes in the designs, mostly in the bridge that links the west and east buildings. Board members asked for the columns holding up the bridge to be removed. To do so, architects had to narrow the bridge. “I think we can really call it a bridge now,” said Tom Schultz of The Architectural Team. “The supports are not columns, and are up against the building.”

The bridge will span a central driveway, which will link Arsenal Street to the back of the property near Phillips Street. While vehicles will be able to go through the site, they will not be allowed to continue onto Phillips Street. Walkers and bikers can go onto Phillips Street, which will create a connection to Mt. Auburn Street.

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Plan for 69-unit residential, retail complex at Masonic building


Wicked Local Malden | By Steve Ryan
June 30, 2015

MALDEN The Malden Masonic Building on Pleasant Street will likely be getting a new life as a 69-unit apartment complex, with the architects promising to preserve the building’s historical look by maintaining the current exterior.

The City Council’s Finance Committee approved giving the project a tax increment exemption at a June 22 meeting. The exemption is an incentive that would basically tax the project based on a base assessed value of the property for up to 20 years, without taking into account increases in property value. The full City Council would still need to approve the move.

The developers, 126-150 Pleasant Street Associates LLC, also have to go before the Planning Board. The building was shut down and was going to be taken into receivership by the city, before the developers took control of the property, after it was found to be in serious disrepair.

The developers’ plan would maintain the building’s façade, while constructing an addition in the rear of the structure. It would be registered as a historical place, according to the developers. “I believe keeping the façade this way is huge,” said Council Neil Kinnon, Ward 6. “If we were to deny this, I would get rid of the building.

Sixty-nine [units] is a lot better than 150 or more…And instead of a wall that all looks the same going down the street, this preserves the historical character.” The current structure would house some of the units, while the addition will include house the majority of them.

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South Boston residents object to latest condo proposal


The Boston Globe | By Sara Dinatale
July 1, 2015

Virgin Mary ShrineResidents of Old Harbor Street in South Boston, fighting a condominium complex planned for a plot of land with a quaint garden and a statue of the Virgin Mary , said Tuesday the new housing will make their longstanding parking problems even worse.

The campaign sprung up after the Marian Manor nursing home decided to sell one of its nearby parcels on Old Harbor to the Cronin Group, a Boston-based developer.

“There just isn’t enough space,” said Phyllis Allison, 54, who has lived a few houses from the piece of land in the Dorchester Heights area for a decade. “All conversations in South Boston come back to parking.”

About 30 people who live near the planned nine-unit condo complex attended a meeting held by the Cronin Group Tuesday night at Marian Manor. Not one person in the audience voiced support for construction of the condos, which need the approval of the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Allison and others worry that new condo residents would exacerbate the parking woes in the area.

Kristin Flaherty Ventresca, 50, has lived on Old Harbor Street for 20 years. She said residents can be circling “for hours” trying to find a space if they get home too late past 6 p.m.

“You don’t go out after 7 p.m.,” Ventresca said. “Our quality of life is just really suffering.”

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All eyes on Volpe: Huge plans leave Cambridge councilors feeling rushed


Wicked Local Cambridge | By Sara Feijo
June 30, 2015

CAMBRIDGE Many Cambridge City Councilors say they feel rushed as they weigh in a Planning Board petition to amend the John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center parcel in Kendall Square.

The petition, a conceptual framework of what could be built on the parcel, proposes changes to the city’s PUD-KS District, which is mostly occupied by the Volpe site.

The Planning Board and Ordinance Committee must vote on the petition, which will then go before the City Council. As part of the process, the city released three-dimensional models of four theoretical scenarios for the Volpe parcel, including a large 1,000-foot commercial tower.

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and the federal Department of Transportation are hoping to convert the existing 14-acre campus — composed of six buildings built in the 1960s and in need of major repairs and alterations — into a new state-of-the-art facility of up to 400,000 gross square feet for up to 1,300 personnel and parking spaces. GSA issued a request for information last August from developers interested in acquiring the land and expanding the development.

The government is looking for a company to create a new home for the transportation center on Broadway, Third and Binney streets in exchange for ownership of a portion of the land.

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Harvard looks to expand campus center; plan reduces open space near Au Bon Pain


Wicked Local Cambridge | By Sara Feijo
June 30, 2015

Harvard UniversityCAMBRIDGE Editor’s note: This is the first in a two-part series about proposed changes to Harvard Square. Next week, the Chronicle will report on a proposal to revamp Out of Town News.

The iconic Harvard Square Forbes Plaza is known for its large outdoor seating area, where street performers and chess aficionados gather around built-in chessboards.

But a recent Harvard University proposal to renovate parts of the Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center, formally known as the Holyoke Center, would eliminate approximately 20 percent of the existing beloved outdoor space at Forbes Plaza — much of the well-known al fresco dining area at Au Bon Pain, across the street from the MBTA Red Line T station on Massachusetts Avenue.

The proposal, which received a certificate of appropriateness from the Cambridge Historical Commission, favorable recommendation from the Planning Board and support from the Harvard Square Advisory Committee, is before the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) for height and Floor Area Ratio (FAR) variances and a zoning relief for alteration and expansion of a nonconforming building.

Harvard representatives say the goal of the project is to foster greater public engagement — not just outdoors but also indoors with enhanced retail space, improved wheelchair access on the plaza, increased interior landscaping, and seven additional trees planted outside.

Some residents, however, feel Forbes Plaza, a landmark enjoyed by the community, would no longer be a place that draws people together. “We may as well rename Harvard Square Harvard’s Square. Harvard doesn’t need anymore glittering window-dressing or programmatic spaces,” Thompson E. Potter Jr., a Martin Street resident, said at a BZA hearing on Thursday, June 25. “Forbes Plaza belongs to a community far wider and far more diverse than Harvard real estate, Harvard Square Business Association and Harvard Board of Overseers.”

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Water Street Housing Plan Before City Council for Vote Tonight


WHAV
June 30, 2015

Water Street HousingThe Haverhill City Council is expected to postpone at least one of two public hearings scheduled Tuesday night, delaying a proposed 13-unit condominium development on Cross Road, off route 125 near the Ward Hill Connector.

The other hearing, covering a proposed 59-unit multifamily project at the former Friend’s Landing, 85 Water St., is expected to move forward with revised site and architectural plans. Continuing a trend of issuing statements before key city council votes, Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini touted project benefits today.

“This project will provide the citizens of Haverhill with a new waterfront park, docks and access to the waterfront. It means that a major gateway to the city will have waterfront access and a place where all of our citizens, not just those who live next to it, can enjoy the waterfront.

The waterfront rezoning which we passed will reap dividends all up and down the waterfront. This is the first, but it will not be the last, proposed project that will allow for the public to forever be able to view and enjoy the river which is our most precious asset. The rezoning is beginning to pay the kind of dividend we expected when we put it forward,” Fiorentini said.

The mayor’s statement was emailed to all city councilors and the press.

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Marriott Hotel breaks ground on Arsenal Street


Wicked Local Watertown
June 29, 2015

Boylston Properties President BillWATERTOWN Boylston Properties, joined by Watertown town officials, neighbors and friends, broke ground on June 25 on a new 150-room Marriott Residence Inn on the former site of Charles River Saab, on Arsenal Street in Watertown, MA.?The 10 a.m. groundbreaking took place at 564 Arsenal St., Watertown, MA, site of the former dealership that was one of the first in America for the Swedish auto manufacturer.

Boylston Properties President Bill McQuillan presided and introduced a brief speaking program that included Steve Magoon, Director of Community Development and Planning, also Assistant City Manager, of Watertown; Mark Sideris, President of Watertown Town Council; Navin Dimond, President and Chief Executive Officer of Stonebridge Companies, a partner with Boylston in the project; and others.

The new hotel is part of a continuing story of improvement in the neighborhood.

Boylston Properties acquired several properties in Watertown, including the Arsenal Mall (now known as The Arsenal Project) and the Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates building, from Simon Property Group, Inc., as well as the Verizon warehouse facility at 480 Arsenal St.

The new Marriott Residence Inn is a new extended-stay hotel in a developing area and will have amenities including a pool, fitness center, and meeting space.

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Nonsolar users bear burden of net metering


The Boston Globe | By Bob Rio, Amy Rabinowitz and Camilo Serna
June 29, 2015

Solar WorkTHE SOLAR ENERGY BOOM in Massachusetts has been exciting and there is little debate over whether further expansion is important. We are strong supporters of solar energy, but only at the right price for the state’s businesses, municipalities, and residents, including low-income customers. It is they — not utilities — who are shouldering the high cost of electricity produced by solar power.

As the conversation about how to finance the future of solar energy in Massachusetts continues, it is important to set the record straight about what maintaining the status quo — or raising the net metering cap — means for utility customers statewide, as well as what it means for solar developers.

Net metering – one of the state’s solar incentives – rewards solar energy owners or developers by paying them for the power they produce at the same rate they would pay if these owners and developers were consuming electricity from the grid. This rate includes payment for benefits and services that solar developments do not provide.

In addition, when solar sites produce more than they consume, they don’t have to pay for services such as the use of the wires and poles operated and maintained by the utility and financed by utility customers. For large solar projects, these reimbursements far exceed the value they bring to the electric system. As a result, Massachusetts pays more per kilowatt-hour of solar energy than anywhere else in the nation, and about twice as much as neighboring New England states.

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Pressure to Cut Employee Benefits Threatens Labor Peace


Looming ‘Cadillac tax’ on health plans, corporate pension burdens likely to complicate talks with unions

The Wall Street Journal | By Vipal Monga and Kimberly S. Johnson
June 29, 2015

Verizon ProtestMany big companies are pushing to cut spending on employee benefits—from pensions to health insurance—and could face labor strikes as a result.

In all, major employers have about 400,000 union workers whose contracts are up for negotiation this year. They include the Detroit auto makers, whose workforces have a combined 140,000 members of the United Auto Workers; a group of railroad operators including CSX Corp. , with 142,000 union employees; and telecom companies like Verizon Communications Inc., which is in talks with about 40,000 wireline workers.

Most labor talks involve some head-butting over benefits. But what’s different this time, corporate finance chiefs say, are a looming “Cadillac tax” on health-care plans and pension burdens that are dragging down profits.

At New York-based Verizon, executives want to “redesign and reshape” health plans in a bid to cut overall cost, said Fran Shammo, chief financial officer.

Verizon also aims to rein in pension expenses. Its obligations for defined-benefit pensions—the kind that guarantee retirees a set payout—totaled $25.3 billion at the end of 2014, up 10% from 2013.

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Hearing on controversial 248-unit apartment complex in Foxboro set for Tuesday


The Sun Chronicle | By Frank Mortimer
June 29, 2015

Foxboro Town HallFOXBORO – A company that builds luxury housing using Massachusetts’ affordable housing law is sticking to its guns in Foxboro.

Rejecting concerns expressed by officials and upset neighbors, Houston-based Hanover Co. says it will not reduce the scope of its planned 248-unit, four-story apartment complex on Fisher Street.

“From day one, we have been upfront: 248 units and four stories are a given,” attorney Frank Spillane said in an interview Tuesday night.

“We’ve emphasized to the neighbors and the board of appeals that the number of units or stories will not be decreased or changed,” he said.

The zoning board of appeals is set to continue its public hearing at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the high school media center on Hanover’s application for a comprehensive permit under the state’s affordable housing law, which exempts qualified projects from local zoning rules.

At a recent zoning board hearing on Domain Foxborough – Hanover’s Fisher Street project – zoning board Chairman J. Neil Forster said his board and residents must engage in a give-and-take with the developer over density and other aspects of the plan. He said he favors a smaller, three-story project.

An outright denial of the project, Forster warned, risks an appeal in which the developer wins all of its original terms, including the ability to build all 248 units.

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Planning Board nears decision on plans for concrete plant


Lowell Sun | By Chelsea Feinstein
June 29, 2015

WILMINGTON — A controversial proposal to allow a concrete plant at 90 Eames St. is inching its way toward a vote by the Planning Board.

After several months of discussions about traffic and noise at the site, Planning Director Valerie Gingrich said much progress has been made toward making a decision on the plans by Tresca Brothers Concrete, Sand and Gravel.

“I think the board is fairly satisfied with the discussions with noise and traffic,” Gingrich said. “The applicant has agreed to provide $45,000 toward traffic improvement on Eames Street. There’s some intersections that will probably need some work.”

According to a memo from MDM Transportation Consultants to the Planning Board sent on May 19, the facility is estimated to generate 218 vehicle trips on a daily basis.

“This represents an increase of approximately 1.1 percent or less in peak hour traffic volume at the Main Street and Woburn Street intersections with Eames Street, which is well within the day-to-day fluctuations of traffic,” the memo said.

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Brighton Ave. development would cater to ‘zero-car households’


The Boston Globe | By Jack Newsham
June 29, 2015

89 Brighton AveIf you’re considering moving to one of 138 new apartments coming to Brighton Ave., you might want to scrap your car, brush up on your bike-riding skills, and download the Uber app.

Eden Properties, the company behind the project, said in a Friday filing that its new apartments at 89 Brighton Ave. would cater to “zero-car households,” whose residents prefer renting over homeownership, biking over driving, and taking public transit or renting a vehicle instead of owning a car.

To that end, the project will include 69 parking spaces for cars, or one space for every two units, storage space for 142 bikes, and an on-site bicycle repair station. Eden also plans for non-car owning residents to receive incentives, such as discounts for T passes, the Hubway bike sharing program, and Zipcar, a short-term car rental service. Residents could also receive credits for Uber, the smartphone-directed ride-hailing service that has been opposed by some regulators and taxi companies.

Most of the units are for small families or single people, with 83 studios and 39 one-bedroom apartments planned. Sixteen two-bedrooms are also planned, along with 7,100 square feet of retail space, slightly lower than the 8,000 originally mentioned in a letter filed with city authorities in April.

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State Tries To Jump-Start Energy Storage Sector


State Tries To Jump-Start Energy Storage Sector

Banker & Tradesman | By Andrew O. Kaplan
June 28, 2015

Aiming to be in the vanguard of the booming energy storage industry while bolstering the power grid and offering Bay State ratepayers clean and affordable electricity, Massachusetts has launched a three-pronged approach designed to attract energy storage technology companies and rethink how power companies and government can work together to meet the commonwealth’s soaring energy needs.

As part of its Energy Storage Initiative (EST), Massachusetts last month pledged $10 million from the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) to develop and fund demonstration projects for a range of applications. Additionally, DOER and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) are undertaking a two-part study that will assess the commonwealth’s options both for backing energy technology companies and formulating policies to promote energy storage deployment. The $10 million will be generated from alternative compliance payments from utilities that fall short of their renewable portfolio standard requirements.

Part one of the joint study will explore the industry landscape, economic development and market opportunities for energy storage, and part two is geared to provide Massachusetts policy makers with a cost-benefit analysis, as well as policy and regulatory recommendations. DOER and MassCEC, which will designate a lead consultant to head each part of the study, are accepting proposals through June 18.

Endorsing the “holistic approach of analysis, assessment and demonstration projects,” DOER Commissioner Judith Judson believes the policies and regulations expected to be the product of the initiative will make Massachusetts “a national leader in the deployment and cost-effective use of energy storage.”

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Collaborative Office Space Planned Atop Fort Point Garage


BRA Expects Application By End Of June

Banker & Tradesman | By Jessica Pitocco
June 28, 2015

Berkerly InvestmentsFriends of Fort Point Channel recently hosted a meeting with local business leaders to hear the latest plans to add offices and retail space to the Stillings Street office-and-garage complex.

Boston-based Berkeley Investments, which proposes adding two floors of office space above the 580 parking spaces, addressed 30 members of the group at the newly opened Committee restaurant earlier this month.

“It’s always been our vision to try to do what we can to be a good neighbor, developer and partner in this district,” said Daniel McGrath, vice president and senior asset manager of Berkeley Investments.

The extra 50,000 square feet of collaborative office space would be surrounded by glass on three sides, giving tenants an unobstructed view of the Boston skyline and Q Park, McGrath said. The addition would sit above the existing six-story garage and two floors of office space.

“The building reflects a natural transition between the surrounding brick, historic and modern buildings in South Boston,” McGrath said.

On the ground floor, Berkeley Investments plans to open two new retail spaces. John M. Karoff, senior vice president of Berkeley Investments, said they hope to attract local service-oriented retail such as dry cleaners and pharmacies that the area lacks.

A new spiral staircase and entryway would be added to the Stillings Street garage and offices, which would remain open during construction.

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Legal Challenges Stack Odds Against Cape Wind Project


Court Ruling Lets Lawsuit Proceed

Banker & Tradesman | By Christopher R. Vaccaro
June 28, 2015

In 2001, Cape Wind Associates announced bold plans to install giant wind turbines on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound. Fourteen years later, this renewable energy project remains stuck on the drawing board. It has not generated a single watt of electricity, but it has kept dozens of lawyers, government regulators, and judges busy in state and federal courts.

Europe boasts scores of offshore wind farms producing thousands of megawatts of clean energy.

The U.S. lags behind, without a single offshore wind farm. Cape Wind hoped to develop the first such project in the U.S., with 130 turbines in federal waters near Cape Cod. The completed project was expected to generate 174 megawatts of electricity on average, enough for 75 percent of Cape and Island homes. However, recent events may doom Cape Wind.

From the outset, Cape Wind faced determined opposition. The late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy fretted that wind turbines would interfere with his yachtsmanship. The Wampanoag Indian Tribe claimed the project would disrupt its religious and cultural interests. Local governments and businesses objected. The shrillest opponent has been the nonprofit Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. Funded by petroleum and coal magnate William Koch (who owns an estate in nearby Osterville), the Alliance filed multiple lawsuits against the project in state and federal courts. Cape Wind has faced more than 30 court and administrative challenges. Although Cape Wind prevailed in most cases, the litigation has delayed and burdened the project financially.

Despite its detractors, Cape Wind moved forward. The Massachusetts legislature boosted the project in 2008, when it enacted the Green Communities Act requiring electrical utilities to purchase some electricity from renewable energy producers. Cape Wind signed a 33-year lease of the seabed from the federal government and contracted to sell 77.5 percent of its output to National Grid and NSTAR. The project was gaining momentum, but financing difficulties remained. Cape Wind’s plans ran aground this year, when it missed a financing deadline. National Grid and NSTAR terminated their contracts in January, leaving the project without reliable buyers for its electricity. Cape Wind maintains that the utilities have no legal right to terminate the contracts, but there are justifiable doubts that Cape Wind can deliver.

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