Boston Herald by Brooks Sutherland

On the same day that Mayor Martin J. Walsh rolled out extensive plans to protect the city’s waterfront and shoreline from rising sea levels, a group of East Boston residents stormed City Hall Plaza, demanding that he  hear their concerns about Eversource’s proposal to put a substation near Chelsea Creek. 

John Walkey, the waterfront initiative coordinator for the community-based organization GreenRoots, said his group has been trying to meet with the mayor “for about a year,” to voice their opposition due to the proposed electrical substation. Walkey gave credit to Walsh for some of the work that has been done as part of the Climate Ready East Boston Plan, but said allowing a substation would counter its progress. 

“It doesn’t fit into that plan,” Walkey said. “It doesn’t make any sense. It’s like saying tomorrow, I’m going on a diet, I’m going to lose 20 pounds, but first, I’m going to eat this entire box of Kane’s doughnuts.”

The mayor’s office said in a statement, “The substation in East Boston will better support East Boston’s growing population and facilities, including the city’s investments in a new police station, ambulance bay and a public works facility,” adding that the city worked with Eversource to choose the site.   

The statement didn’t say whether the mayor plans to meet with the group. 

City Councilor Lydia Edwards, who represents East Boston, told the Herald that even though it appears the substation will be built, compromises can be made between the organization, mayor and Eversource.  

“I would encourage the mayor and Eversource to sit down with GreenRoots,” Edwards said. “There are some ways in which we can make sure everybody is on the same page. I would love a commitment from Eversource that if uses go down, they re-consider decommissioning the substation.”