BLC Approves Small Cell Light Pole in the Fenway; Work on Arlington St. Church

The Boston Landmarks Commission (BLC) met virtually on August 25, where a proposal for a replacement street light with small cell wireless infrastructure was approved, as was initial work on Arlington St. Church.

31 Park Drive Street Light

 After several hearings, a proposal for the replacement of a concrete street light with a metal one that includes small cell wireless infrastructure for 31 Park Drive in the Back Bay Fens was approved by the Commission. 

At previous hearings, Commissioners had questions about the pole design and what the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s (DCR) plans were for the area as far as light pole designs go, and they wanted to ensure consistency throughout the area with the design.

The applicant, Paul Costa of communications infrastructure provider Crown Castle, presented a proposal with a cobra head arm design at the hearing on Tuesday night, at the request of the Commission. He said that an LED light fixture must be used, but the pole style will remain consistent with the rest in the area.

The shroud for the equipment and the antenna will still be attached to the side of the metal pole, in a design that he said has been approved by the DCR.

He also proposed three paint colors for the metal pole to the Commissioners, two of which are  RAL colors: a flat darker gray, a flat lighter gray, and a textured paint called Zolatone, which he said would mimic the rough concrete texture of the other concrete poles.

“I prefer the textured one I think,” said Commissioner Berarducci.

“I found both of the RAL colors, at least on my screen…very light and very tan to what I perceive to be slightly darker poles around the city,” Commissioner Brad Walker said. He noted that there are many other RAL colors to choose from, and said he would like to see something “a little grayer; a little less yellow.” He said that the Zolatone was also his favorite out of the three, “but I don’t think there’s any benefit to mimicking concrete in how you paint the metal pole.”

After further discussion on the paint colors, the Commission voted to approve the pole with the proviso that staff choose the final paint color for the pole, and they would like to see something that more closely matches the color of the existing poles nearby.

Arlington Street Church

An application for work on the Arlington Street Church came before the BLC over a year ago for an advisory review, and the project team returned on Tuesday evening seeking approval for Phase One of their plan for the church.

The scope of work for Phase One includes repairing the brownstone, re-pointing mortar, reconstructing the south and north stars, the construction of a new north ramp, restoration of wrought iron railing at the east stairs, window restoration, and more.

An architect for Bruner/Cott Architects said that the water table is deteriorated and rising dampness from the ground has caused the porous stone to deteriorate as well.

“Currently it’s a patchwork of mortar repair,” she said, and the team has created a technique for salvaging the stone that was used during last year’s renovation of Harvard Hall.

A drawing of the building facade was shown, with a color coded chart for specific stones that indicate which need to be fully replaced, which need a full-face dutchman, which need a partial dutchman, which need redress, and where mortar and crack repairs are needed.

“We did find a new stone from India,” se said, which “should last longer than the existing stone.” Unlike the stones on the upper facade, the whole stone band along the bottom of the building will be replaced so it has a uniform look.

For the ramp, she said the existing ramp off of North Arlington St. is not currently code-compliant, and that “numerous ramp studies” were done to decide where the best location for the ramp would be, which they decided was in the north. The new ramp will be part of the new design for the north basement stairs. Wood and steel were proposed materials for the ramp because “the length of the ramp is obscured from view,” according to a slide presented at the hearing.

She also said that the south and north stairs will be reconstructed out of new brownstone “to match the original massing and detailing.” The existing stair has a narrow landing and a step at the door, and the new stair construction will be level with the door, she said, and it will be extended and increased in size and guard rails will be installed.

The existing ramp is made of wood with a solid guardrail, and the proposed ramp with steel balusters allows the facade to be seen more clearly. The existing basement stair enclosure at the end of the ramp is made of wood and plexiglass windows, which the design team said is not in good shape. The new stair enclosure was proposed to be made of c-channel steel and have large windows, as well as signage.

Commissioner David Berarducci said that he likes the stone restoration. “I think that’s going to be great,” he said. He also said he feels the ramp on the north side is “appropriate,” as it “makes it feel less back of the house and makes it have a more welcoming presence.”

Walker said that he would like to see more details on the railings, garden, and handrails, and for the ramp, he wants to “understand the sort of architecture on the steel support and wood infill.”

He thanked the design team for their “careful attention to the brownstone work,” and he said he was in support of the work on the north and south stairs.

The Commission voted to approve the application with the proviso that the applicant return before the Commission with more details on the access ramp and the entry enclosure for the basement.

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