BHAC Hears Advisory from City on Proposed Crossings at Beacon Street

The Beacon Hill Architectural Commission heard an advisory review on the Boston Transportation Department’s plan to modify the crossings at Charles and Beacon streets, as well as at Beacon and Arlington streets, during its Oct. 21 meeting, which took place virtually.

John Monacelli, a senior transportation engineer with the BTD, said the proposed modifications to the streetscape and traffic signals at the two intersections abutting the Public Garden are intended to improve the pedestrian experience, and to provide direct routes for bicyclists around the Public Garden and the Boston Common, as part of Connect Downtown, the City’s plan to redesign streets in its downtown neighborhoods.

New traffic islands for the permanent separation of bike lanes, “surfaced in brick and edged in granite stone,” would be built at Charles and Beacon streets, as well as at Beacon and Arlington streets, but no changes are proposed for the green space within Codman Island, said Monacelli.

BTD has coordinated with the City’s Public Works Department to ensure that the same type of modular wire-cut brick approved in other parts of the Beacon Hill neighborhood is used for the traffic islands, as well as for all new ramps, which, he said, would also incorporate the same colonial red cast-iron tactile pads found elsewhere in the neighborhood.

As part of the proposed changes, two new post-mounted traffic signals may be needed at the intersection of Beacon and Arlington streets to accommodate pedestrian crossings, which are to be made “directional, accessible, and intuitive to pedestrians, “said Monacelli.

Monacelli also assured the Commission that any changes to signal infrastructure would conform to the historic precedents for material and appearance used elsewhere in the neighborhoods, and that any changes or additions would be designed in ways to limit obstructions to pedestrians and users of the sidewalks.

The commission also voted 4-1 to ratify the unapproved installation of hardware, including an electric outlet, a vent for a furnace, and plastic tubing in a third fenestration in the water-table granite at 104 Chestnut St. The method of repair was remanded to staff for approval.

Contrastingly, the commission voted unanimously for the removal of an unapproved fan vent through the rear façade at 18 Hancock, asking the applicant to reinstall it as closely as possible to the building’s façade and for the applicant to work with staff on this issue.

On another violation at 21 Branch St. for the unapproved installation of screening around HVAC equipment, which is visible from Branch Street, the commission voted to deny ratifying the existing condition, and ordered the owner to remove the HVAC equipment, as well as to return with plans to install different, less-obtrusive equipment in a more suitable location on the roof.

The commission also voted 3-2, with two abstentions, to approve a new double-sided, hanging sign outside the new home of Blackstone’s of Beacon Hill at 40 Charles St., measuring 17½- by-30-inches and emblazoned with the business’s gold-leaf pineapple logo. This came with provisos that the sign be made of wood, instead of the proposed High-Density Urethane material, and that the hardware connections for the sign be made of stainless steel.

On an application for 46 Beacon St. to replace two one-over-one aluminum windows with one-over-one aluminum windows on the second level of the rear façade, which was continued from the June hearing, the commission unanimously approved it, with the proviso that the three windows at the lower level be made of wood instead of aluminum.

           Likewise, the commission also unanimously approved an application as submitted for 78 Beacon St. to repair the red scalloped slate roof in kind, while any substantial changes to the copper would be remanded to staff.

Commissioners Wen Wen and Alice Richmond both applauded the applicant  for choosing to replace the entire roof, rather than just doing a spot roof-repair job.

Moreover, the commission denied without prejudice an application to install a ladder as a second means of egress for an existing roofdeck at 71 Myrtle St. and encouraged the applicant to seek a variance with the city’s Board of Appeal instead.

On an application for 21 Brimmer St. to remove the planters, to replace the railing, and to extend the pergola, the commission unanimously approved it as submitted, with the provisos that the handrail be made of simple black metal, and that both the deck and the guardrail be pushed back around 6 inches. The applicant was also asked to withdraw their request to extend the pergola.

The commission also approved by a vote of 4-1 an application for 10 Hancock install a new handrail on the rear-ell roofdeck, with the proviso that be pushed back at least 14 inches, and if the contractor can find a better solution, it would be reviewed by staff.

Meanwhile, the applicant withdrew their application for 83 Mount Vernon St. to install a new handrail on an existing rooftop “viewing platform” in a location deemed to be visible from many locations.

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