FY13 – A Summary of Our Work on the Greenway
The Conservancy is the designated steward of the Rose Kennedy Greenway, Boston’s mile-and-a-half of contemporary parks that connect people and the city with beauty and fun. In a public-private partnership with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Conservancy programs, maintains, and improves the parks.
In FY13, the Conservancy continued to make the Greenway a joy-filled place for residents and visitors:
- We continued our innovative organic landscape care, winning awards from the Mayor and GreatNonProfits.org.
- We made horticultural upgrades and replacements across the Greenway – from North End trees, to Wharf District gardens, to Chinatown planting beds.
- We were selected to bring our high-quality maintenance and landscape care to the Armenian Heritage Park under a three-year contract with the Armenian Heritage Foundation.
- We significantly increased the free programming on the Greenway from 201 to 357 events, helping drive an increase in attendance to over 622,000 – on top of those who casually enjoy the fountains, gardens, and plazas.
- We started construction on the Greenway Carousel and Tiffany Grove. This magical spot will open to the public Labor Day Weekend of 2013.
- We completed our Five Year Public Art Strategy for temporary exhibitions of contemporary art, and launched with a dramatic, award-winning mural in partnership with the Institute of Contemporary Art.
- We thoroughly refurbished the Rings Fountain before the spring turn-on, using our small maintenance staff to make hundreds of repairs.
We continue to make the Greenway more beautiful through skilled, attentive maintenance and important well thought out improvements. The Conservancy uses organic and sustainable landscape practices that are innovative, award-winning, and fiscally sound.
We have been recognized for our sustainability efforts this year by the City of Boston with Mayor Menino’s Greenovate award. The Greenway is Boston’s only organically maintained public park and one of a handful of organically maintained urban parks in the United States. Plants are healthier, more resilient, and better able to withstand the stress of public use and the demands of an urban environment because of our management practices. The Conservancy’s policy of not using herbicides and toxins also ensures that run-off from the parks will not pollute Boston Harbor or harm the delicate marine life. Children and pets can freely and safely play on our park lawns without the worry of pesticides. The cornerstone of our organic approach is our compost tea operation. We have increased applications of our organic compost tea from 1,800 gallons in 2010 to 13,000 gallons in 2012.
We engaged a Harvard Kennedy School team in fall 2012 to study our compost tea operations. They found that our daily organic care is less expensive than a non-organic approach. They also made process improvement recommendations that we have begun implementing.
We also made the following horticultural improvements throughout the parks with a focus on sustainability, maintenance simplicity and greater beauty:
- We addressed beds in the Wharf District where the original Central Artery/Tunnel Project plantings have not fared well. We added herbaceous plants to the bed across from the Harbor Island Pavilion, which will bring more four-season color and texture to the already existing island inspired plant palette. We improved a failed area across from the Rowes Wharf Plaza by transplanting existing on-site material combined with transplants from the Carousel site and the introduction of new plant material that should provide greater buffering from the nearby street traffic as well as greater textural variety and year round interest. Both of these projects continue a relationship working with Pat Cullina, who is nationally respected for his work at The High Line and Brooklyn Botanical Garden.
- At Dewey Square Park, a grant-supported effort added a new planting bed, a small orchard, and seawall stones for seating. The Rain garden is processing storm water naturally and the produce grown in the edible garden continues to supply the hunger-relief organization Lovin’ Spoonfuls.
- In the North End, we added 6 shade trees and also transplanted 5 existing Magnolias from the lawns into plant beds to give these beautiful specimens a better opportunity to thrive. The new shade trees were located to provide shade without taking too much space from sunbathers.
- To make way for the construction of the Greenway Carousel, we transplanted a large amount of shrub and perennial plant material as well as 18 trees to new homes in the landscapes of the Wharf District and Fort Point Channel Parks.
- Chinatown received a significant amount of in-fill plantings to remediate previously failing areas,15 street/pit trees were replaced, an additional 23,000 bulbs were added to the parks and efforts continued year round towards the four-season rotation of plants in our containers.
We greatly expanded our popular and educational volunteer program by nearly doubling or total volunteer hours from 1,113 in 2011 to 2,173 in 2012 that included a large group to help on National Public Lands Day to plant mums, transplant material from the Carousel site, re-grade stone-dust paths, and more. We provide a very meaningful experience for volunteers, including the opportunity to learn from our horticulture staff about our sustainability practices; our volunteers gave the Conservancy rave reviews on GreatNonProfits.org.
In FY13 the Maintenance department responded to the daily and seasonal demands of running a clean, green, and safe park. This means consistent, efficient and responsive work practices, from emptying trashcans on a regular basis to fixing problems promptly. Routine maintenance of all structures and equipment includes using environmentally safe products. The Conservancy’s maintenance workforce handles repairs, fountain maintenance, and other skilled tasks; our efforts are supplemented by our contracted partner, WORK Inc., which employs individuals with disabilities. WORK Inc. handles basic park care—including lawn mowing, litter and trash removal, and snow removal—and helps provide an in-park presence 16 hours per day, 365 days per year.
Over eight weeks in the spring, we did a major rehab of the Rings Fountain which had been requiring an increasing amount of daily maintenance attention. The Rings Fountain is extremely complex, with 60 shooters (jets), 9 fog manifolds, over 150 lights, over 200 pneumatic hoses and several hundred pneumatic connections. Over 100,000 pounds of granite and concrete pavers were removed to access these components. We thoroughly cleaned the fountain basin and addressed hundreds of equipment repairs. Having refurbished all of the fountain’s Pico lights in FY12, this year we had to replace three. Finally, we used new materials and techniques to reinstall and re-level the pavers. Thanks to our Maintenance staff, we were able to do virtually all of the work ourselves, saving time and money for the Conservancy. The Rings Fountain, one of five water features on the Greenway, is once again “the most unconditionally happy spot in all of Boston” (The Boston Globe).
We made repairs, replacements, and upgrades to other park features, which are showing the effects of age and of the parks’ heavy usage. We continued making repairs and upgrades to the Chinatown fountain following the equipment room flood that occurred at the end of FY12. For the Light Blades, all new fixtures and a new controller were purchased for installation in FY14. Replacement of speakers and power supplies for Harbor Fog was started in FY13 and will be completed in FY14. A second sump pump was installed in the Rings Fountain vault to augment the primary one and a new ventilation fan was installed in the fountain controller cabinet there. We also installed a seven-cartridge filter canister for the fog system at Rings to reduce the maintenance there. In addition, we installed an extensive drainage system on parcel 19 in October of 2012 that has effectively minimized erosion of the stone dust paths during heavy rains and diminished soggy lawn areas substantially. We also regraded all of the stone dust paths, and relamped and installed new ballasts in lighting throughout the Greenway.
The Conservancy was selected to care for the Armenian Heritage Park on the Greenway. Under a three-year contract with the Armenian Heritage Foundation contract will begin July 1st, 2013, the Conservancy will bring its high quality maintenance and landscape standards to the beautiful fountains, labyrinth, and gardens in the park.
Public Activities – Programs and Art
The Conservancy has brought vibrancy to the Greenway. In addition to the millions of visitors who passively enjoy our fountains and gardens, the patronage at park offerings—events, Wi-Fi, carousel, and Mobile Eats—increased 66% to 622,000 in 2012, on top of a 73% increase in 2011. The Greenway hosted more free events than ever before: 357 in 2012, up from 201 the previous year.
The Conservancy partners with others to host, rather than produce, events. We host programs like ReadBoston in the North End Parks; “Films at the Gate” in Chinatown Park; Race Amity Day; 9/11 Service Day with the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund; the Boston Public Market Association’s farmers market; Greenway Open Market; FIGMENT participatory art festival; and the Summer on the Waterfront. We work with many diverse partners—North Bennett Street School in the North End, Berklee School of Music, National Center for Race Amity, Chinatown Mainstreets, ACDC, Sustainable Business Network, and many more. The Conservancy, across the water from the Innovation District, seeks to encourage progressive programming.
Our nationally acclaimed Greenway Mobile Eats Program complements a growing food district. Huge crowds turn out for chef-driven fare from trucks, carts, and bikes. Innovative food offerings included an espresso bike, a solar-powered hot dog cart, a farm-sourced food truck, and a new truck from a James-Beard-Award nominee. FY13 saw a significant increase in the earned income contribution from Mobile Eats to support the Conservancy’s operations; 2013 contracts are worth over $250,000, a tenfold increase from 2010.
Public art gives residents, workers, and tourists a reason to visit, linger, and discuss. In FY13, funded entirely with private donations, we completed a Five-Year Public Art Strategy that envisions temporary exhibitions of contemporary art; this process was shaped by nationally recognized experts, local art institutions such as the MFA, and the best-attended community meetings the Conservancy has ever held. We launched our new public art effort with a highly visible mural at Dewey Square Park in partnership with Institute for Contemporary Art; painted by Os Gemeos, 50 best public art projects by the 2013 Public Art Network Year in Review by Americans for the Arts (www.artsusa.org), the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts.
In FY2013, we kicked off the RFP process for two larger temporary public art works for development and display in 2015-2016. Over 200 artists applied in two categories – Winter Light and Connection – and we choose three finalists in each category who presented full proposals in June. We look forward to announcing the chosen artists and a plan for fundraising later in calendar 2013.
Finally, we welcomed several temporary public art exhibitions and events in FY13, including Figment, a two day participatory arts festival in late July 2012. In May 2013, the Fence, a series of photographs from emerging North American photographers was mounted on 340 feet of six foot high fencing on Parcel 12. The Fence was curated by Photoville USA in conjunction with the Flash Forward Festival.
The Greenway Gala is the Conservancy’s annual fundraising event. In FY13, the Gala was hosted on the Greenway for the first time, welcoming guests into a spectacular tent with decorations put together by the Conservancy’s horticulture team. The night was a glowing success – attended by 400 representatives from the business community, nonprofit community groups, corporations, foundations and individuals. The Gala provides the Conservancy an opportunity to say thank you to our supporters and provides a platform for sharing our current and future initiatives.
Planning and Design
The Conservancy’s P&D staff, which in past years have made small scale park improvements such as furniture and signage, were focused in FY13 on the design and construction of the Greenway Carousel and site.
The opening of our new one-of-a-kind carousel on the Greenway on Labor Day weekend will fulfill a long-held dream of the City of Boston and the community dating to the planning of the greenway. Construction began in March at the carousel location between the Armenian Heritage Park to the north and the Boston Harbor Islands Pavilion to the south, a short distance from where the rental carousel has stood for the past four summers. The park will create a nexus of activity in this part of the Greenway.
The Tiffany & Co. Foundation Grove will surround the Carousel with a beautiful, welcoming new park environment, including wonderful four season plantings, comfortable seating, and filtered shade. The carousel itself is a one-of-a-kind creation with fourteen unique characters including a lobsters, butterflies, and a sea serpent. A total of 36 seats will be on the carousel, including a wheelchair accessible spot. The Greenway Carousel uses universal design principles to create access for people of all abilities.
Green & Grow
In FY13, the Conservancy ran a youth workforce development program, Green & Grow. The 12-month program provided a pipeline to future studies/training or environmentally-focused jobs. It combined job readiness training with career exploration, environmental education, academic support, team-building, personal attention from mentors and attractive compensation.
This year we graduated our fourth class of Green & Grow apprentices. The Apprentices made great advances in job readiness, learned presentation skills, and were introduced to ideas like land management and horticulture practices. In the summer, the Conservancy has offered a Green & Grow internship program in which the participants gain on-the-job experience alongside our staff. Since the beginning of the program, all program graduates have completed a successful transition by enrolling in higher education or gaining full or part-time jobs with employers like the National Park Service, Branching Out, MA Department of Conservation and Recreation, Emerald Necklace Conservancy, Save the Harbor Save the Bay, and the Greenway Conservancy’s own park operations team.
In conjunction with TDC, a trusted Boston non-profit institution, the Conservancy is undergoing an evaluation of our education strategy. We are assessing how to build on the strengths and successes to date of Green & Grow and other education efforts. We have gathered a small working group and expect the results to inform our approach in FY14.