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

FOPG

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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Shadows and our Parks

A typical fall day on Boston Common
A fall afternoon on Boston Common

Dear Friends,

We have heard from our members expressing concerns about the Winthrop Square development proposal, and asking about the Friends’ position regarding the protection of our parks from shadows, in light of recent press about this proposal.  While comments from the Friends have been included in some articles, with varying accuracy, we want you to know that we stand firm  in our commitment to protect our parks from any weakening of existing  shadow laws.

The shadows from the proposed 750-foot tall project in Winthrop Square would reach as far as Commonwealth Avenue Mall and violate the current shadow legislation. The Friends of the Public Garden has consistently advocated for protecting our parks from excessive shadow and wind resulting from development projects that would harm these vital and historic greenspaces in the heart of Boston.

As you know, in 1990, the Friends worked with elected officials and the Boston Redevelopment Authority to draft and enact legislation to protect the Boston Common and Public Garden from damaging new shadows. This shadow protection has worked as intended – it has successfully protected our parks, while allowing robust development to continue in the city. Now, 25 years later, we are facing a new generation of buildings that challenge our  parks.

We believe that we need a comprehensive solution to downtown development projects that threaten to cast shadows on the parks and do not conform to the current legislation. We are meeting with the BPDA, gathering information, and seeking answers to unresolved questions about the project.

If you want to make your voice heard, please contact your state elected officials (Byron RushingJoe BoncoreAaron Michlewitz, William Brownsberger and Jay Livingstone) and Boston City Councilors (Michelle  WuAnnissa Essabi George,  Tito JacksonMichael Flaherty,  Bill LinehanJosh ZakimAyanna Pressley, and Sal LaMattina) directly to express your concern  about any potential changes to the state shadow laws that would reduce the  shadow protection that has existed successfully for 25 years.

Help us protect the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth  Avenue Mall.  Together we can ensure the healthy future of our parks.

Sincerely,
Liz Vizza
Executive Director, Friends of the Public Garden

 

BOSTON’S CHRISTMAS TREE ARRIVES NOVEMBER 18

Photo credit, www.larskim.com
Photo credit, www.larskim.com
The annual gift of an evergreen Christmas tree from Nova Scotia will arrive by police escort at Boston Common at approximately 11 a.m. on Friday, November 18.

This year marks the 45th anniversary of this traditional gift giving, a way to thank the people of Boston for providing emergency assistance when Halifax, Nova Scotia’s capital city, was devastated by a wartime explosion in 1917.

Boston’s official 2016 Christmas tree is a 47-foot white spruce tree located alongside Hwy 395 in Ainslie Glen, Cape Breton.  The tree is on a highway right-of-way and owned by the Province of Nova Scotia which is unusual because, with the exception of 1981, the Christmas trees sent to Boston have been donated by private property owners. The spruce is located near the Waycobah First Nations community nestled along the shores of the world-famous Bras d’Or Lakes.  In addition, Nova Scotia is donating smaller trees to Rosie’s Place and the Pine Street Inn.

On November 18, the official 2016 Christmas tree will be escorted by the Boston Police Department beginning around 10 a.m. from Billerica via Route 3 South to Route 128 North to Interstate 93 South to Sullivan Square to Rutherford Avenue over the Charlestown bridge and will weave through downtown Boston on North Washington, New Chardon, Cambridge, Tremont, Boylston, and Charles Streets to enter Boston Common at the corner of Beacon and Charles Streets at approximately 11 a.m.

Boston Parks Commissioner Chris Cook, an official Nova Scotian town crier, Santa Claus, and local schoolchildren will greet the tree at its final destination near the Boston Visitors Center at 139 Tremont Street.  The tree will be lit at approximately 7:55 p.m. on Thursday, December 1, as the City of Boston’s Official Tree Lighting is celebrated on Boston Common from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.