Advocacy Update: Mayor’s Bill on Winthrop Square is on the Governor’s Desk 

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Mayor’s Bill on Winthrop Square is on the Governor’s Desk

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

 

Make your voice heard: Contacting elected officials

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Below is the list of emails (formatted so you can copy and paste) and phone numbers of the elected officials, City Councilors, and the Mayor.

Mayor Marty Walsh                          617-635-4500      mayor@boston.gov

State elected officials:

Byron Rushing 617-722-2783 byron.rushing@mahouse.gov
Joe Boncore 617-722-1634 joseph.boncore@masenate.gov
Aaron Michlewitz 617-722-2220 aaron.michlewitz@mahouse.gov
William Brownsberger 617-722-1280 william.brownsberger@masenate.gov
Jay Livingstone 617-722-2396 jay.livingstone@mahouse.gov

Boston City Councilors:

Michelle Wu 617-635-3115 michelle.wu@boston.gov
Frank Baker 617-635-3455 frank.baker@boston.gov
Andrea Campbell 617-635-3131 andrea.campbell@boston.gov
Mark Ciommo 617-635-3113 mark.ciommo@boston.gov
Annissa Essabi George 617-635-4376 a.e.george@boston.gov
Michael Flaherty 617-635-4205 michael.f.flaherty@boston.gov
Tito Jackson 617-635-3510 tito.jackson@boston.gov
Sal LaMattina 617-635-3200 salvatore.lamattina@cityofboston.gov
Bill Linehan 617-635-3203 bill.linehan@cityofboston.gov
Timothy McCarthy 617-635-4210 timothy.mccarthy@boston.gov
Matt O’Malley 617-635-4220 matthew.omalley@boston.gov
Ayanna Pressley 617-635-4217 ayanna.pressley@boston.gov
Josh Zakim 617-635-4225 josh.zakim@boston.gov

 

Members Reception: Legacy Parks in a Changing City

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.

Continue reading “Members Reception: Legacy Parks in a Changing City”

Boston Common Receives Lime Treatment

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The white dusting appearing on the grassy areas of Boston Common over the next few days is not made up of snowflakes that we traditionally expect to see this time of year. Warmer temperatures have made it possible for us to fit in one more needed treatment to help trees, turf and soil on the Common. The treatment will support better root growth and development, provide plant nutrients, increase disease resistance, and correct several conditions that are causing additional stress on the plant life in this heavily used urban park.

Interested in Joining Our Team?

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Do you love the Public Garden, Boston Common, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall? This may be your chance to join the team that works to preserve and enhance them. The Friends of the Public Garden is seeking an Executive and Development Coordinator.

The Executive and Development Coordinator supports the work of the Executive Director and Director of Development in a variety of administrative and management functions. Of primary importance is support for the effective functioning of the Friends board and committees, donor database management and donor relations support, and volunteer management. Reporting both to the Executive Director and Director of Development Director, the responsibilities of the position include:

Administrative Support

Record-keeping and Expense Tracking Support
In coordination with accountant, accurate tracking of expenses and revenue for each mailing, fundraising event, campaign, etc.; monthly reconciliation of donor financial records with accountant records

Board and Committee Support
Meeting scheduling; meeting materials preparation; coordinating to ensure accurate recording of meeting minutes; attending selected committee meetings and support minute recording as needed; maintaining current board and committee lists

General Office Functioning Support
Phone support as needed; ordering of supplies; oversight of equipment maintenance needs (phones; computers; printers); management of small mailing projects

Receptionist duties including providing excellent customer service to members of the public who visit the office

Vendor and Materials Production Support
Making vendor calls and obtaining estimates; oversight of materials production (printing jobs, invitations, programs)

Assistance with managing Executive Director’s schedule
Membership, Database Management and Donor Relations Support

Membership Mailing and Online Support
Research, obtain and create mailing lists; coordination of mailing projects with printer and mailhouse; tracking and recording of responses; preparation of statistical reports; facilitation of note writing by committee members; oversight of online donation process including updating of online giving page and tracking of statistics on online giving for each electronic appeal;

Database Management
Accurate tracking and recording of donations in database; mastery of complex reports in Donor Perfect; research and application of ways to improve use of Donor Perfect; management of donor lists

Donor Relations Support
Conducting of donor research (individual, foundation and corporate); preparation of prospect reports; drafting of custom thank-yous for editing with little guidance; phone calls to donors as needed; management of annual report donor permission process

Volunteer Support

Recruit and supervise office volunteers/interns/Co-Op students
Train all above in relevant technology and office systems
Event Support

Event Logistics Support
Obtain site and catering details, effectively manage rsvp process; prepare materials for exhibit tables or events; solicit in-kind donations as needed (food, services, items)

Event Management Support
Help recruit volunteers to staff FOPG tables; staff events as needed and supervise volunteers

Qualifications

Education – Bachelors degree

Minimum three years professional, related work experience

Minimum 1 year fundraising-related experience (can be volunteer work)

Proficiency with Microsoft Office Suite applications; ability to master fundraising databases with ease and to train others

Familiarity with online fundraising technology and adding/editing website content

Superior attention to detail and accuracy in writing and record-keeping

Experience leading and motivating volunteers

Ability to multi-task

Organized, self-motivated and self-directed

Flexibility and ability to work collaboratively and harmoniously in a small office environment; availability for occasional evening meetings and events

The ideal candidate will be someone who desires a career in a nonprofit organization.

Please submit a resume and cover letter to Executive Director Elizabeth Vizza at info@friendsofthepublicgarden.org. No calls please. Local candidates only.

Summer Party Raises Roof and Funds for Parks

We were delighted to be joined by 170 Friends at the Rooftop of the Taj Hotel on July 22 for our second annual Summer Party. The event doubled in size from the the previous year and sold out nearly one month earlier. Thank you to our generous event sponsor First Republic Bank, and to old Friends and new who stepped out to celebrate and support the three parks we care for in partnership with the City. Read about the evening in the Boston Herald  and visit our Facebook album to view more photos.

Photos: Pierce Harman

Meet the Friends: Sherley Gardner-Smith

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Love for our special historic parks inspires many to become members of the Friends of the Public Garden. It was certainly a driving force that prompted Sherley Gardner-Smith, a passionate Master Gardener and lover of nature, to become actively involved in our organization more than ten years ago. For Sherley, however, the other driving force that led to her involvement was a little closer to home. Her husband Fred has been involved with the Friends for many years, and was the first person to introduce her to our work and us.

Anyone who knows Sherley knows of her boundless energy. Happily, we are the beneficiaries of that energy through a number of Friends initiatives that she has become involved with. She has a keen interest in plantings in the parks and is a past member of our Horticulture Committee. In 2014, she became a member of our Communications and Outreach Committee. In that role she volunteered to test a natural science curriculum designed for use in the Public Garden with several local school groups. Children were able to observe natural occurrences and use them as the basis of scientific discovery. It may come as no surprise that this former teacher was attracted to a project that helps students find a new and deeper appreciation for a Garden she loves so much.

Her advocacy for learning continues in what may prove to be her most significant undertaking yet on behalf of the Friends, as co-leader of the newly launched Public Garden Tour Program. Sherley, along with Sidney Kenyon, is overseeing more than a dozen docent volunteers who lead tours of the Public Garden. The pair have spent hours coordinating trainings and implementing the program with the assistance of Friends staff.

We asked Sherley what our parks mean to her, and she said, “Enclosed in the sanctuary of the Public Garden, under the canopy of the magnificent trees, surrounded by the vibrancy of the flower beds, one can contemplate nature with solitary reverence or share in the beauty with fellow citizens.”

We thank Sherley for her many volunteer hours and for taking an active role in sharing her love for our parks with others.