On June 7th, the Friends celebrated the completion of our latest capital project, the restoration of the George Robert White Memorial fountain. Joined by many friends, including City Councilor Josh Zakim and Parks Commissioner Chris Cook, new Friends Board Chair Leslie Singleton Adam thanked the generous donors who made this restoration possible.
Special thanks to Weston & Sampson, Zen Associates, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Boston Parks and Recreation Department for their contributions to the fountain restoration and landscaping work, making this a beautiful corner of the Public Garden again.
Remembering Anne Brooke
In tribute to our wonderful late Board Chair, Anne Brooke, we also dedicated a beautiful Horsechestnut tree for her inspired leadership of the Friends and this special restoration project.
Celebrating the restoration of the fountain
Henry Lee, Liz Vizza, and Leslie Adam
Henry Lee and Chris Cook
Bill Clendaniel, Peter Brooke, and Henry Lee near the horse chestnut tree dedicated to Anne Brooke
Leslie Adam greets the crowd
Celebrating the restoration of the fountain
Celebrating the restoration of the fountain
Boston Parks Commissioner Chris Cook speaks, with City Councilor Josh Zakim, Friends Board Chair Leslie Adam, and Friends President Emeritus Henry Lee
Josh Zakim, Leslie Adam, and Chris Cook
Henry Lee honors Anne Brooke
Sherif Nada and Leslie Adam
Liz Vizza and Bob Mulcahy from the Friends with Cassidy Choust and Gene Bolinger from Weston & Sampson and Peter White from Zen Associates
Cassidy Choust, Liz Vizza, Peter White, Gene Bolinger, and Bob Mulcahy in front of the George Robert White Memorial fountain
Cassidy Choust, Peter White, and Bob Mulcahy
Peter White (Zen Associates), Cassidy Choust and Gene Bolinger (Weston & Sampson), Project Manager Bob Mulcahy (Friends), Executive Director Liz Vizza (Friends), Friends Board Chair Leslie Adam, Boston Parks Commissioner Chris Cook, Friends President Emeritus Henry Lee
It was standing room only at the Friends Annual Meeting on April 12. After the usual Board business, Executive Director, Liz Vizza gave an inspiring summary of the year’s accomplishments to the attending members. Thanks to the generous donations of the members, the Friends was again able to make over a $1 million investment in the maintenance of the Common, the Garden, and the Mall focusing on trees, turf, and sculpture while also pursuing notable capital improvements.
This past Tuesday, John Alschuler, Chairman of HR&A Advisors spoke to Friends members at our annual Members Reception at the Four Seasons Hotel Boston. John Alschuler gave an excellent and thought-provoking presentation entitled Sustaining Excellence: Legacy Parks in a Changing City. The capacity crowd was very engaged and asked John many interesting questions after his presentation. Attendees enjoyed meeting new friends and catching up with old ones at the reception after the program.
If you were unable to attend, the entire program is available to watch on YouTube. The presentation slides are here.
With just days before the water was scheduled to fill the lagoon in the Public Garden, Friends Executive Director Elizabeth Vizza and Public Garden Committee Chair Bobby Moore made a muddy trek to the lagoon island to survey the vegetation. In particular, they wanted to find out how a special “Moon Glow” Magnolia virginiana, planted last year, fared through the harsh winter months. The tree was a gift of the Garden Club of the Back Bay and was the first of 50 planted in the neighborhood to celebrate the organization’s 50th anniversary, and the original planting of magnolias along Commonwealth Avenue.
Vizza and Moore were pleased to see that the tree, at the northern edge of its range, survived the winter despite some minor vandalism. The Friends consulting arborist assessed the tree for winter damage and did some corrective pruning. The Friends will continue to monitor the tree throughout the growing season. It is one of 1,700 trees cared for by the Friends in the Public Garden, Boston Common, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall. To learn more about the Friends tree care program, visit www.friendsofthepublicgarden.org.
The 44th Annual Meeting of the Friends of the Public Garden will take place on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 with a reception to follow. Members of the Friends leadership will provide updates on the organization and discuss its plans for the future, including a newly developed five-year strategic plan.
The featured speaker for this event is long-time parks advocate Bill Walczak who will present on “Opportunities for Parks in Boston’s New Political Environment.” Walczak was a candidate for Mayor of Boston in 2013, is Vice President of External Relations at Shawmut Design and Construction, and a member of the Friends Council. He has been a park advocate since the 1970s, when he helped create the Friends of Peabody Square Park in Dorchester, helped to restore the historic Uphams Corner Burial Ground, and became the caretaker of the James Blake House in Dorchester, which included being the guardian of Richardson Park, the park in which the Blake House resides. He was a founder of the Boston GreenSpace Alliance, and in the mid-1980s started the Friends of Savin Hill Park. He served on the Parks Commission for the City of Boston in the 1980s and 90s.
The Friends of the Public Garden has launched its spring membership drive with an enticing incentive: Anyone who joins the Friends by May 1 will be entered into a drawing to win lunch for two at the Four Seasons Hotel’s Bristol Lounge.
“We look forward to welcoming new members to our organization, and we are grateful to the Four Seasons for its generous donation,” said Anne Brooke, president of the Friends.
A membership organization open to all, the Friends was founded in 1970 by concerned citizens. It works closely with the Boston Parks Department to protect and enhance Boston’s three historic parks: the Boston Common, the Public Garden and the Commonwealth Avenue Mall. For four decades, the Friends has funded the expert care of trees and plantings and the maintenance and restoration of sculptures and fountains, and it has been a staunch advocate to protect the parks from misuse and encroachment.
“None of this could have been accomplished without the support of our members,” Brooke said. To cap off the membership drive, the Friends will host a wine-and-cheese reception in the Friends office at 69 Beacon St. on Wednesday, May 1, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. President Emeritus Henry Lee and Executive Director Liz Vizza will speak briefly, and exhibits detailing the Friends work in the parks will be on display.
The drawing for the lunch at the Bristol Lounge will take place at the end of the May 1 reception. Those who join at the reception will be entered twice into the drawing. Those who cannot attend the reception can also be entered into the drawing by joining online before May 1 at http://www.friendsofthepublicgarden.org or by calling 617-723-8144 for a membership form. Membership starts at only $25.
Since last year the Friends have been working with neighborhood organizations, the Parks Department and other interested parties to develop a plan that provides meaningful recreation for dogs in Boston Common, protects turf from overuse and that minimizes interference with other users’ quiet enjoyment of the park. Last week the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission approved a program that includes five rotating off-leash areas. Dog owners will serve as the stewards of the park by following and enforcing the rules regulating use of the space. Consistent with best practices in turf management, the designated space will be rotated to a new location every six-months, and dog owners will fund restoration of the previously used spaces.
Signs will be posted and trash cans added to the new off-leash sites. Park rangers can ticket pet owners for allowing their dog off-leash in non-designated areas or for not picking up after their pets.
“I know it’s a very challenging park to try to do this in, but it’s also a park many, many hundreds if not thousands of dog owners are using” Elizabeth Vizza, Executive Director of the Friends of the Public Garden, told the commission.
The sites range in size from 21,000 to 57,500 square feet. Three of the proposed sites are located near Beacon Street; two are near the Parkman Bandstand by Tremont Street.
While approving the plan, the commission raised concerns about enforcement of the rules and stipulated that it would review the success of the program six months after it begins.
“All of us are sympathetic to dogs wanting to run off-leash and have energy, and what not, but there is common courtesy, and the Common is for people without dogs as well,” said Susan Park, a Parks and Recreation commissioner.
“This is going to require the folks that have come to this agreement help us enforce it, and talk to dog owners and encourage dog owners to do the right thing,” Vizza said.
No date has been set for the program to begin.
Job One this fall will be to restore the turf below the Joy Street stairs that’s been used as a pilot dog recreation area. The Friends are currently working with the city to determine whether this restoration needs to be complete before the other spaces can be opened.
Job two falls in the hands of dog owners. A group of organizers called Common Canine also needs to raise money for signs, dog waste receptacles and other play perks for pooches, she said.
The Friends and Common Canine plan to operate the dog park between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and 9 p.m., eventually on five designated rotating spaces so that no one area gets beaten down by paw traffic.