Friends at Work: Channing restoration update

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During the next few weeks, we will be putting the finishing touches on this year’s $60,000 Channing Memorial conservation effort.
Weather permitting, Daedalus will be back on site in the Public Garden scraping and painting the unique fencing that is on either side of the monument and repointing the granite base rail and posts. If you look closely, you will see the design of that fence is different than the traditional fencing that surrounds the rest of the park. The fence is an integral part of the monument’s design. Tim Mitchell, chair of the Friends Sculpture Committee, has pointed out the design that runs along the bottom of the fence is called Greek Key (you will probably recognize it from the detail on Greek buildings and pottery).
The Friends plays a vital role in caring for 42 pieces of public art in the Common, Garden, and Mall, spending an average of $100,000 each year on regular cleaning, as well as conservation and restoration when needed. This work is made possible thanks to generous donations from our members and the public.

Advocacy Update: Height of Winthrop Square Lowered, Shadow Impact Still Felt on Parks

 

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Shadow Study Illustration 

 

A shorter building is a positive development, but the reduction to 702 feet in response to the FAA ruling still doesn’t prevent the building’s shadow from extending across the parks during the times that required exemption from the shadow laws. The illustration shows one of the shadow studies we commissioned during this process and the effect of changes in the height of the building from 775 feet down to 575 feet. Reducing the building to 702 feet will have no substantive impact on shadows cast on the Common and Garden.
Without a design, we still do not know what the final building will look like or what its impact will be, particularly given that the developer might make the tower wider to compensate for the loss of height. We will be deeply involved in the Article 80 process, to ensure there is no erosion of protections for the parks.
One of the positive outcomes of the exemption legislation was the City’s commitment to downtown planning, and we look forward to working with the BPDA to begin that process in the near future. Moving forward, it is critical that Boston’s development be guided by protecting what makes our city livable and desirable, most importantly our irreplaceable greenspaces.

City of Boston Traffic Advisory for Saturday and Sunday, September 16 and 17.

Hub on Wheels and other special events taking place on Saturday, September 16, and Sunday, September 17, will impact traffic and parking in the City of Boston.  Those attending the events are encouraged not to drive their personal vehicles.  Information on Hubway, the regional bike-share service, may be found at www.theHubway.com and information on the MBTA may be found at www.MBTA.com .  For a faster return trip, the MBTA advises riders to purchase a round-trip rather than a one-way ticket.  Walking is also a great way to travel around Boston.

Saturday and Sunday, September 16 and 17

Hub on Wheels related events will take place on City Hall Plaza on both Saturday, September 16, and Sunday, September 17.  The Hub on Wheels bike ride through Boston will take place on Sunday only, beginning at 8 AM on Congress Street behind Boston City Hall.  For detailed information regarding Hub on Wheels, including planned bike ride routes and a car free Storrow Drive, please see http://tdhubonwheels.com/ .

On Saturday, September 16, traffic delays should be expected from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM near City Hall Plaza on Cambridge, Sudbury, Congress, State and Court Streets, for a Hub on Wheels related event.

On Sunday, September 17, the following City of Boston streets will be closed to traffic from 7 AM to 9 AM.

  • Congress Street, between New Sudbury Street and State Street (southbound lane)
  • Cambridge Street, between Court Street and New Sudbury Street (northbound lane)

“Tow Zone No Stopping, Boston Police Special Event, Saturday and Sunday” parking restrictions will be in effect as follows.

  • Cambridge Street, both sides, Court Street to New Chardon Street
  • Congress Street, City Hall side, North Street to State Street
  • Court Square, both sides, the entire length, inbound and outbound
  • Court Street, both sides, Washington Street to Cambridge Street
  • New Chardon Street, both sides, Cambridge Street to Merrimac Street
  • New Sudbury Street, both sides, Cambridge Street to Congress Street
  • State Street, both sides, Congress Street to Washington Street
  • Washington Street, both sides, Water Street to Court Street

“Tow Zone No Stopping, Boston Police Special Event, Saturday” parking restrictions will be in effect as follows.

  • Congress Street, City Hall side, New Sudbury Street to North Street

“Tow Zone No Stopping, Boston Police Special Event, Sunday” parking restrictions will be in effect as follows.

  • Cambridge Street, odd side, New Chardon Street to Charles Circle

Saturday, September 16

The South Boston Street Festival

  • East Broadway, between I Street and L Street, will be closed to traffic from 7AM to 6PM.

“Tow Zone No Stopping Saturday” parking restrictions will be in effect as follows.

  • East Broadway, both sides, I Street to L Street
  • L Street, odd side, L Street heading south for the first two street lights
  • Municipal Parking Lot, #650-652 E. Broadway, all spaces in the parking lot

The Uphams Corner Street Festival

Stoughton Street, between Columbia Road and Pleasant Street, will be closed to traffic from 9 AM to 5 PM

“Tow Zone No Stopping Boston Police Special Event Saturday 8 AM to 5 PM” parking restrictions will be in effect as follows.

  • Stoughton Street, both sides, Columbia Road to Everett Avenue/Sumner Street

The ABCD All Bright Community Center Grand Opening

  • Commonwealth Avenue Carriage Road, from Spofford Road to Long Avenue, will be closed to traffic from 12 PM until 5 PM

Sunday, September 17

The Boston Local Food Festival

  • Milk Street, from Surface Road to Atlantic Avenue, will be closed to traffic from 6 AM to 8 PM

The South Street Diner Customer Appreciation Day

  • South Street, from Beach Street to Kneeland Street, will be closed to traffic from 10 AM to 6 PM

Advocacy Update: Winthrop Square Enters Next Chapter

BC Parkman Bandstand

 

Winthrop Square Exemption is Passed 

Dear Friends,

On Monday, July 24, the State Legislature passed and sent to Governor Baker’s desk H. 3749, a home-rule petition filed by Mayor Walsh to exempt Millennium Partner’s planned 775-foot luxury condo tower at Winthrop Square from two state laws passed in the early 1990s to shield the Boston Common and Public Garden from new building shadows.

Throughout our 47 years as guardians of the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall, the Friends has been a steadfast and vocal advocate for the protection and enhancement of our three treasured parks. As you know, since last fall we have expressed deep concerns about the impact the Winthrop Square development would have on our parks and the prospect of it becoming a blueprint for future exemptions from the state laws that have protected the Common and Garden while allowing development to continue in downtown Boston. We acknowledge, however, that the City Council, with its 10-3 vote in favor of the home rule petition, spoke with a clear voice. The Governor is expected to sign the bill into law.

While we lost the battle to prevent this exemption from the state laws, we have succeeded in negotiating important commitments through our discussions with the Mayor’s office, the Boston Planning and Development Authority, and Millennium. The City has committed to a comprehensive planning study for Downtown, which is sorely needed if Boston’s development is to be guided by a broad perspective about what we need to preserve as we grow as a city, and not address one building at a time. The City has also committed to develop a master plan for the Common that will involve a robust public process. The Friends will actively partner with the Parks Department in this planning process, which will guide the spending priorities for the $28 million slated to come to that park. Of the $28 million, $5 million will be set aside in a trust that will be used to fund maintenance of the Common. The Friends will appoint one of three trustees along with appointments by the district City Councilor and the Mayor.  In addition, Millennium has agreed to make an annual contribution of $125,000 for 40 years to a special fund managed and overseen by The Boston Foundation that will be used for the maintenance and enhancement of the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall.

These agreements provide a consequential and much-needed infusion of capital for the Common, Boston’s most heavily used park, as well as an annual revenue stream to help mitigate the impact of the shadows cast by Winthrop Square on the three parks. We will be an important voice in planning for the future of Downtown that protects the very greenspaces that make Boston so livable and desirable.

As this new chapter opens, we remain, as always, steadfast guardians of the Common, the Garden, and the Mall. We plan to remain deeply involved in ongoing environmental and Article 80 reviews related to the Winthrop Square building, as well as in ensuring that this statutory exemption remains – as Mayor Walsh has pledged – a one-time exception to the Shadow Laws. We will vigorously oppose any further encroachment of shadows on these landmark parks beyond this one exemption.

We want to publicly thank our state representatives – Jay Livingstone, Aaron Michlewitz, and Byron Rushing – and our state senators – Will Brownsberger and Joe Boncore – for their invaluable assistance throughout the legislative process.  We also want to acknowledge the support of our City Councilor, Josh Zakim, City Councilor Tito Jackson, and City Council President Michelle Wu.

While we would have preferred that City officials had seen the wisdom of standing firm against any deviation from the state laws that have served the parks and downtown development so well for over 25 years, we appreciate that the process fostered a productive dialogue with Mayor Walsh, and we want to thank him for hearing our concerns. We look forward to continuing to work together with the City to protect and enhance our irreplaceable greenspaces in the decades ahead.

Sincerely,

Leslie S. Adam, Chair, Board of Directors
Elizabeth Vizza, Executive Director

 

Testimony at Hearing for House Bill 3749

Testimony of Leslie Singleton Adam, Board Chair, Friends of the Public Garden, to the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government, regarding House Bill 3749

June 27, 2017

Good morning Chairmen Moore and O’Day, Vice Chairmen Timilty and Stanley, and members of the Committee.  My name is Leslie Singleton Adam, and I am here as Board Chair of the Friends of the Public Garden to testify on House Bill 3749, titled An Act Protecting Sunlight and Promoting Economic Development in the City of Boston.  While we are hesitant to take a formal position on the bill at this time, since we are engaged in discussions with the City of Boston and Millennium Partners on what we hope will be a mutually beneficial agreement that will protect our cherished downtown parks, I am here to offer some thoughts on the legislation and context about the issues it addresses.

First, I would like to provide some information on the history and mission of the Friends of the Public Garden. The Friends has worked in partnership with the City of Boston since 1970 to maintain, enhance, and advocate for the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall. When we first came into existence in the 1970s, the parks were in total disrepair. Today they are national treasures and are the heart of the city.

We are in the parks daily, working as guardians and gardeners for 1,700 trees, 53 acres of grass, and conservators of 42 pieces of public art, including the world-famous George Washington, Shaw Memorial, and Make Way for Ducklings statues.  The Friends is able to invest more about $1.6 million annually directly into the parks to more than match the city’s annual appropriation through the Parks Department. With over 3,000 Members representing 133 communities in the Commonwealth, all of the funding for our work in the parks comes from private donations.

We care for the parks on a daily basis and work to restore the many fountains and statues that grace them. We raised $4.4 million to renovate Brewer Fountain Plaza near Park Street Station to bring it to life with tables and chairs, music, a reading room, and an active food truck program. And we raised $720,000 to restore and set up a maintenance fund for the famous ”Angel” fountain (George Robert White Memorial fountain) in the Garden to its former glory, bringing the water back after 30 years.

We come to this issue not as hobbyists, but as experts in horticulture and longtime partners with the City. We have raised legitimate issues regarding the impact of the shadows the Winthrop Square Building will cast on our landmark parks. We still have strong reservations about a one-time amendment to laws that have worked to protect our parks while allowing development to continue in downtown Boston. But we are working toward an agreement that will result in a significant investment in the parks, as well as a comprehensive planning process for downtown development. Our goal is to minimize – or mitigate – the impact of the shadows and gain assurances about future exemptions from these laws.

We have been working closely with the Mayor and the BPDA, members of the City Council and the Boston legislative delegation – Reps. Jay Livingstone, Aaron Michlewitz and Byron Rushing and Sens. Will Brownsberger and Joe Boncore – and they have listened to our concerns. In this bill are assurances that the City will undertake a comprehensive downtown planning process – something we plan to be fully engaged in. Also in this bill is the elimination of the remaining approximately quarter acre of allowable shadow under the law in the so-called Shadow Bank.

We acknowledge that the City Council’s 10-3 vote was a clear statement of support, and that the Mayor is strongly supportive of this petition. However, the City consistently refers to this project as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we plan to hold them to that. We will oppose any further encroachment of shadows on the city’s landmark parks. And we hope that, in its consideration of this bill, the Committee will make it clear to the City that you will not entertain further exemptions to these laws that have protected our parks for over two decades while allowing robust economic development downtown.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify on this important matter.

 

 

Leslie Singleton Adam elected Chair of the Friends of the Public Garden

Leslie Singleton Adam, Chair, Friends of the Public Garden PROOF - 2

The Friends is honored to welcome Leslie Singleton Adam as the new Board Chair.

On June 1,  2017, the board of directors of the Friends of the Public Garden elected Leslie Singleton Adam as Chair. Adam has been on the Friends board since 2014  and is only its third chair, succeeding the late Anne Brooke.

First Vice Chair, Colin Zick said, “The Friends is tremendously fortunate to have someone of the astuteness, practical vision, and nonprofit experience as Leslie Singleton Adam stepping into the Chair position at this significant time in the organization’s life. Under her leadership, I know the Friends will continue to flourish.”

Leslie Singleton Adam said, “It is an honor for me to serve as the Chair of the Friends of the Public Garden and I am excited to help the Friends grow. This impressive organization has done so much for the Boston community by investing over $1.5 million each year in the care of our parks. I will continue to advance the Friends’ mission for excellence of care, active advocacy for park protection, and encourage a deepening partnership with the City in support of the Boston Common, Public Garden and Commonwealth Avenue Mall so that we can pass these treasures on to the next generation in better condition than we received them.”

Adam brings impressive credentials to the position. She spent many years in the management of professional service firms, most recently at The Boston Consulting Group.  She is currently working in real estate with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. Adam has been involved in a number of nonprofits here in the Beacon Hill community, including the Beacon Hill Nursery School, the Beacon Hill Civic Association, the Nichols House Museum and recently served as the President of the Beacon Hill Garden Club in which capacity she also was an ex officio member of the board of the Friends of the Public Garden. Born in Boston, a life-long park lover, Leslie and her husband Alastair have lived on Beacon Hill for 19 years, moving here from London. They live on Chestnut Street with their two children.

Adam takes the helm at an important time for the Friends continuing its primary mission of funding the expert care of trees, turf, and sculpture in all three parks. A major turf restoration and irrigation project is being implemented for the Common and the Mall, and the finishing touches for landscape improvements to the Boylston Street boundary of the Garden will be completed this fall. The $2.5 million campaign for the Henry and Joan Lee Sculpture Endowment is nearing completion.