Behind the Scenes: Winter Park Work

These days our parks are quiet, often covered with a blanket of snow, the trees dormant and flowers having long disappeared…is the staff on vacation?  Not at all! The winter months are full of activity.  Friends Project Manager Bob Mulcahy, Collections Care Manager Sarah Hutt, and consulting arborist and soil scientist Normand Helie are hard at work planning for the year to come, and overseeing winter tree work.

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Norm and Bob diving deep into the tree inventory, checking and rechecking!

Sarah and Bob evaluate every piece of sculpture throughout the year, planning out the annual cycle of care and cleaning.  Together they prepare the budget, receive proposals from conservators, ready contracts for the proposed work, and notify Boston Parks and Recreation Department, the Boston Arts Commission and Boston Landmarks Commission about upcoming annual maintenance.  Once the contracts are signed and paperwork filed, Bob and Sarah will work with the conservator contractors to schedule when the Women’s Memorial, among many, will get the TLC they need.

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Protests on Boston Common

A history of demonstration in American’s first park

The Women’s March on January 21 on Boston Common was just the latest in a long history of peaceful demonstrations on the Common.

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photo credit: Greg Cook

“The Common has been at the center of Boston’s civic life since its establishment in 1634. Despite physical changes, the Common has remained a focal point for the community – from grazing cows and military activities to celebration, punishments, protests and recreation. Physically, as well, it has remained fairly consistent in size and character, a green respite in the midst of the city.” — Boston Common Cultural Landscape Report, prepared by Landscape Historian Shary Berg for Friends of the Public Garden

After rowdy demonstrations against the English Stamp Act and the tax on tea, the repeal of the Stamp Act in 1766 was cause for a huge celebration on the Common. Following the Revolutionary War, the Common was host to protesters of every stripe, and Presidents from Washington to Jackson visited along with other notables.

Meet the Friends!

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Beatrice Nessen, longtime Friend and Advocate

Beatrice Nessen has always cared about open space and urban quality of life issues. As a child, she remembers walks with her father in the Arnold Arboretum who had a passion for trees and passed on his knowledge by quizzing her on the names of the trees they passed. She learned about the different leaves, bark, tree shape and diversity of flora in the Arboretum.  Not surprisingly, she feels greenspace is an invaluable resource to commune with nature, walk through, and view the city from a distance. She says that “Parks are essential to make a city livable on a human scale.”

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Shadow Legislation Summary

Downloadable Copy: Shadow Legislation Summary.pdf

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Shadow Legislation Summary
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Two State laws in place for the past quarter of a century have effectively protected Boston’s signature public parks from excessive shadowing, while still allowing for robust downtown development. The Friends of the Public Garden steadfastly supports these effective laws and opposes any erosion of these protections.

Boston Common Shadow Law (Ch. 362, 1990)

●   This State law restricts new shadows on the Common to the first hour after sunrise or 7:00 a.m. (whichever is later) or the last hour before sunset, with different exemptions for buildings in the Midtown Cultural District, which lies east and south of the Common and Garden (see the attached plan).

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Fact Sheet on Proposed Winthrop Square Tower

Downloadable Copy: Fact Sheet on Proposed Winthrop Square Tower.pdf

FOPGFact Sheet on Proposed Winthrop Square Tower
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The Proposed Tower Violates State Laws

●    The Friends of the Public Garden is committed to preserving sunlight and preventing shadow creep on the City’s landmark public parks, while also allowing development to continue in downtown Boston.

●    Millennium Partners’ proposed 775-foot Winthrop Square development is in violation of existing laws designed to protect Boston Common and the Public Garden from shadow creep. These laws, in effect for a quarter century, have protected the City’s signature public parks while allowing a robust level of development in downtown Boston.

●    If built, Winthrop Square Tower would cast a morning shadow stretching from Winthrop Square in the financial district, down the middle of Boston Common, through the heart of the Public Garden and onto the Commonwealth Avenue Mall – a distance of roughly one mile.

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Advocacy Alert

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Shadows from 200 Clarendon, mid-afternoon December 2016

Dear Friends,

Now is the time to let the Boston Planning and Development Authority (BPDA) and your elected officials know your opinion about the Winthrop Square development proposal and the threat of shadows on our parks.

The deadline for BPDA public comment period on the Winthrop Square proposal is January 16, 2017 now extended to January 20, 2017.  Please email the Project Manager, Ms. Casey Hines, at casey.a.hines@boston.gov as well as call your elected officials including the City Council and the Mayor with your comments about shadows and our parks.

Individual messages are the most impactful, and please include your personal thoughts about these iconic parks.

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Shadows and our Parks: Make your voices heard

The last few weeks have seen a significant increase in publicity around the proposed Winthrop Square development and its potential impact on Boston Common and the Public Garden, with four articles in The Boston Globe alone. The more light shed on this potential dimming of our parks, the more people will understand the importance of this issue.

At the same time, there are comment opportunities and government actions between now and the end of January that we want you to be aware of. We are eager to engage with city and state officials, other organizations, the development community, and citizens like you as we strive to ensure good public policy that allows development while protecting our parks.

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