Verizon Wireless to Place Hidden Antennas on the Roof at 44 Waltham St

By Beth Treffeisen

In an effort to fill in gaps of Verizon service, the telecommunications company will install three fiberglass ‘chimneys’ to be painted a dark, discrete color, concealing six ballast-mounted antennas on the roof of 44 Waltham Street.

The South End Landmark District Commission (SELC), approved the application at the July 5, hearing after concerns of setting a precedent arose.

“My concern is that we will end up with a forest of antennas up there,” said Commissioner John Freeman.

John Moran the attorney for Verizon Wireless said that since the first “lollipop” installation of a major antenna in downtown Boston in 1993, there has been a push to install mini-counterparts throughout the City to support the additional technology that uses data. This move has also included the addition of antennas to the top of streetlights that have been popping up along the city streets.

Moran said the service is not only used for luxury, but also for safety. Boston Police and the State Police use Verizon services to support their network.

“We’ve identified this particular area on the fridge of the service area,” said Moran. “I just want to add again that this is a vital part of public safety.”

The fixtures will not be permanent. A cable will run from the antennas on the roof down to the supporting equipment in the basement.

“We are attempting to make it blend in but for them to work the signal needs to be able to penetrate through the material,” said Moran.

The original design presented faux brick-chimneys to surround the antennas but Chair John Amodeo said that the commission prefers to see something that looks obscure rather than something that is supposed to look like something else.

“We tend to shy away from faux structures,” said Amodeo.

The structures will be placed on a commercial building that is owned by GTI Properties.

Three residents of the South End came out in support of this project, stating that during evenings their Internet connections are very poor, and that it has been an ongoing problem in the area for years.

Currently there are no other wireless providers on the roof. The SELC approved this application on the stipulation that no other wireless providers are allowed to put antennas on the roof, unless a master plan is submitted between the companies on how they would coordinate placing the antennas.

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The West Springfield Street community garden will soon get a new greenhouse structure. Since the current structure has outlived its usefulness, the gardeners will be funding a $2,200 to $2,300 redwood and bi-carbonate structure from Wayfair.

It will sit in the existing space and will have no power and not heat. Placed on a slightly smaller footprint, it will serve as a workplace, and to have a starter space for plants.

“The last one was plastic, and this is certainly an upgrade,” said Peter Bowne from the Trustees of Reservations. “But it’s not that we don’t love the old one. It lived a long and very useful life.”

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A new Japanese restaurant called Akinto is planning to move into 1 Appleton St. in the South End. The SELC denied without prejudice the application for exterior work proposed to revamp the restaurants façade.

The application included the re-configuration of the front entrance to better conform with accessibility standards, installation of wood and steel pergolas above the masonry openings, installation of new blade signage, installation of illuminated wood panels behind the street windows, and new planters and lights around a seasonal back-patio area.

SELC had concerns over how the pergolas will be installed on the brick building, the lack of details over how the front entranceway door will be reconfigured, the thickness of the blade sign that will be displayed on the side of the building and not enough detail on materials of the planters and lights being proposed for the outdoor patio.

“As an application this is very insufficient,” said Chair John Amodeo. “There are a lot of unknowns.”

The restaurant plans on opening in about four months and is currently getting the proper permitting from Boston’s Inspectional Services Department.

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The SELC denied without prejudice the change of paint color of the front façade from sandstone brown to a cream/ yellow paint color at 213 West Canton Street. The applicant, Antonia Misdea said that the owners wanted to paint their rowhouse to match the color at 211 West Canton Street.

Chair John Amodeo said that once the façade is painted it has to match the material, in this case sandstone, behind it.

“It is to maintain the original character of the rowhouse,” said Amodeo. “If they do want these two buildings to match – because they are probably sister houses – I would suggest talking to your neighbors to switch to brownstone color. That is probably what it was intended to be.”

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The SELC denied without prejudice the replacement of a building entrance security gate with a new wooden entry door at 3 Haven Street, stating that there isn’t enough historical context to prove that a door was there in the first place and concerns over if Boston’s Inspectional Department (ISD) would approve it.

“This street has five unique buildings which makes it harder because we’re not sure if a building of this style would have a door like that,” said Chair John Amodeo. “We may have to see more.”

Commissioner John Freeman suggested that the owner meet with ISD to see if a double door – one door at the street entrance leading up the stairs to the front door of the house – would be allowed. He added, that he is also unsure if a door is allowed to swing out over the public sidewalk.

Commissioners Diana Parcon and Catherine Hunt also stated that if a door were approved they would like to see glass in it.

Parcon said, “At the very least I like to see who is out on the street before I step out.”

The Commission asked that the applicant secure more historical information that would show a door was once there and to investigate with ISD.

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