Category: Press

DCR Unveils Final Design for Esplanade Riverfront Pavilion

By Beacon Hill Times Staff

By Dan Murphy

The Department of Conservation and Recreation and its development team unveiled the design for the proposed Esplanade Riverfront Pavilion at the third and final public meeting on the matter at the State Transportation Building Wednesday while proposing a unique, public-private partnership for underwriting the project.

Watertown-based architect Maryann Thompson said the first level of the two-story building would accommodate office space for Hill House and other partnering organizations while the second story would feature a “multi-purpose” space that could accommodate various sports, theatre and other programming.

An outdoor space on the building’s second floor, which Thompson described as a “giant New England-style porch,” would provide terraced landscaping that would allow for seating, and could accommodate shuffleboard and other activities, as well as offer unobstructed views of the Charles River.

Sitting atop the second level would be a “green-roof” that would also be occupiable, Thompson said.

DCR Commissioner Leo Roy said since the project presently has no funding, the state would issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking an entity or entities to enter into a 10-agreemnt to finance construction of the building and eventually operate it. The RFP is expected to go out for bidding next month, with responses due in February of next year. Afterwards, Roy anticipates at least a two-year construction process.

Roy expects the annual budget of operating the facility would be between $750,000 and $1 million, and that it would be made available for private, special events to help underwrite this cost.

State Rep. Jay Livingstone said, “The project has evolved tremendously. It’s great to see all the public comments and viewpoints come together, and I think it’s going to be great.”

Duane Lucca, a project stakeholder and representative for the West End Museum, said he hoped that the pavilion wouldn’t be “controlled by a small contingent of groups, but rather open to the wide community.”

Meanwhile, Thompson said the development team had conceived three concepts for repurposing the Upper Gates Lock House on the Esplanade, all of which would “keep the fabric of the building.”

One option involved a year-round “interpretive center”; a café with outdoor seating that would be open in the spring, summer and fall; and a space for Nordic ski-rentals during the winter months, she said.

Public comments on the pavilion are due on Friday, Nov. 17, and can be submitted online to http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/public-outreach/submit-public- comments/ or
in writing to the Department of Conservation and Recreation, Office of Public Outreach, 251 Causeway St., sixth floor, Boston, MA 02114.

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Esplanade Association Names Michael Nichols Executive Director

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The Board of Directors for the non-profit Esplanade Association today announced the unanimous selection of Michael J. Nichols, of Boston, as the organization’s Executive Director. Nichols, an experienced public servant, attorney, and non-profit professional will begin at the Esplanade Association on November 29.

Nichols joins the Esplanade Association after three years at the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, serving the last 2.5 years as Chief of Staff. At the Greenway, Nichols was responsible for the Conservancy’s community and government affairs, external communications, and advancing strategic priorities. Under his leadership, the Conservancy negotiated a landmark public-private funding agreement, opened Boston’s first fully open-air beer garden, launched the organization’s signature young professional fundraising event, significantly grew earned revenue with innovative activities, and initiated numerous partnerships with other leading Boston institutions for in-park events.

“Michael has proven strategic leadership experience in communicating the value of a public/private partnership to care for – and activate – an urban public park,” said Alexi Conine, Chair of the Esplanade Association Board. “We were impressed with his passion, broad skillset, and record of success in mission-focused government and non-profit work. He will help fulfill the Association’s goal of making the Esplanade an innovative, sustainably-maintained recreational destination and cultural asset. We’re thrilled to have Michael join us.”

The Esplanade Association is the 100% privately funded friends group dedicated to stewardship and improvement of the Charles River Esplanade in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). Since the organization’s founding in 2001, the Esplanade Association has raised over $14 million which has funded new Park amenities, restored Park assets and infrastructure, improved horticultural offerings, initiated new programs and public art, managed a robust volunteer program, and made key improvements to the three-mile stretch of waterfront park.

“The Charles River Esplanade is a jewel of Boston parks and I couldn’t be more excited about being named Executive Director of the Esplanade Association to continue the organization’s transformative work,” said Michael J. Nichols. “The Park already has a fantastic mix of signature events and regular activities in addition to its status as Boston’s most peaceful respite from city life. I look forward to working with the Association’s Board, the dedicated EA staff, our partners at DCR, and the Park’s many stakeholders to revitalize and enhance this signature public space.”

“The Esplanade Association plays a key role in supporting the ongoing maintenance, care, and improvement of the Charles River Esplanade,” offered State Representative Jay Livingstone. “I look forward to working with Michael Nichols to ensure the continued strength of this important public/private partnership.”

Nichols, who received both his bachelor’s degree and law degree from the University of Connecticut, began his career in public service as Chief of Staff and Legal Counsel to two state representatives in the Massachusetts Legislature, specializing in public finance and community development. He later served as Research & Policy Director to the full 13-member Boston City Council.

About the Esplanade Association (esplanadeassociation.org)

The Esplanade Association is a privately funded nonprofit organization that works to revitalize and enhance the Charles River Esplanade, sustain the natural green space, and build community by providing educational, cultural, and recreational programs for everyone. Working in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Esplanade Association is dedicated to improving the experiences of the millions of visitors who enjoy Boston’s iconic riverside green space.

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ABCD’s North End/West End Neighborhood Service Center Buona Sera

ABCD’s North End/West End Neighborhood Service Center (NE/WE NSC) fundraising celebration, Buona Sera: An Evening with Friends, raised nearly $50,000 to aid low-income and elderly residents of the North End and West End who turn to the center for assistance.

For the fifth year in a row, Ron Della Chiesa of WGBH and the Boston Symphony Orchestra performed as the event’s master of ceremonies. He played a few lines from “God Bless the Child” by Billie Holiday:

God bless’ the child,
That’s got his own
Yes the strong seem to get more
While the weak ones fade

Empty pockets don’t

The words are true, and he attested how ABCD takes care of all “children”, its seniors, families, and children – and that its vital human and educational services take care of all who seek assistance from the organization, ensuring that they do not fade away.

ABCD President/CEO John J. Drew continued in that realm with his own rousing deliverance. “There is no cash register at ABCD,” he declared.  “Our customers, our clients, do not pay. Each year ABCD serves over 100,000 low-income individuals from Boston – starting with nearly 3,000 in Head Start and Early Head Start all the way up to nearly 14,000 seniors, and many Adult Basic Education (ABE) services and job training and supportive services in between. All funds raised support these critical programs.”

“This year, not to mention these past few days, has been filled with tragic events of violence, neglect, natural disasters, political dividedness and, even surrounded by all these negative events, there are still people willing to stand up and help their fellow man.

It warms me, my board and staff to see you all here, who are people who support our cause; who give back; who volunteer; and who care about and respect others who are less fortunate. We thank you for being part of our work that we carry out each day in our agency, ” Maria Stella Gulla, NSC Director, enthused.

“Back for the 7th year! My clients and I have never enjoyed an event more. Every year we aim to try a new restaurant with a different celebrity guest. What more could you ask for, all while helping the NE/WE NSC get ready to kick off the holiday season to provide turkeys, toys, and nourishing meals for their clients!” one dinner guest raved.

The Buona Sera evening commenced with a wine reception at WilmerHale on the 26th floor of 60 State Street, followed by dinner at a table for 10 at one of several premiere North End restaurants. Each table was paired with a local celebrity – an elected or public official, sports figure, media celebrity or other well-known local personality. All who participated enjoyed a perfect fall evening (with a final hint of summer breeze) on the town, along with sparkling conversation with their celebrity host!

NSC Director Maria Stella Gulla, who grew up in the North End, noted that “since 2011 this innovative event has raised nearly $250,000 for educational and recreational programs and human services that the center offers. Here in our neighborhoods, we have hundreds of seniors who have lived in the North End since their childhood or in the case of the West End, are thrilled to come back after having neighborhood development forced their eviction in the 1950s. In both communities, we see seniors well into their 80s, 90s, and beyond.”

“Seniors and families come to our two food pantries and our hot meals; we help them access benefits and get needed healthcare. We provide translation services and fuel assistance and many other services. The funds we raise through Buona Sera are critical to keeping these services going and to launching new programs. We are on the brink of launching a van service to address the transportation needs of low-income seniors, who cannot travel between the North End and West End neighborhoods due to their physical health; construction projects; and lack of public transportation. Bay Cove Human Services (Kit Clark) will provide a weekly nine-passenger van, and we will start with transportation from the Amy Lowell and Blackstone Apartments, and gradually add North End housing sites. We have also revived exercise classes and the fall prevention program.”

“Italian Heritage Month remains the perfect time to hold Buona Sera,” said Johannah Malone, Event Coordinator and Fundraising Specialist for the NE/WE NSC. “This event exceeded our expectations, thanks in a significant part to our Fundraising Chair, Becky Mattson, Project Executive of Cottonwood Management, LLC. Over the past year, we have brought a lot of new donors and friends into the important work that we carry out in the agency and I am excited about sending them our center’s monthly newsletter. I encourage anyone who is interested to email me at johannah.malone@bostonabcd.org to join our fundraising committee. It really is a high profile event, and committee members enjoy the time spent in organizing and recruitment! Hosting the event at the same site each year cuts down on a lot of the long-term planning and details, as we are mindful of everyone’s time commitment and availability.”

We at the ABCD NE/WE NSC thank our 2017 donors for the event, some who go back seven years, and others who were “new to the table”, literally and figuratively!

We also thank our Celebrity Hosts:

Honorary Host City Councilor At-Large Ayanna Pressley; Master of Ceremonies WBGH and BSO’s Ron Della Chiesa; Senator Joe Boncore; Senator Sal DiDomenico; Representative Aaron Michlewitz; Representative Jay Livingstone; City Councilor-At-Large Annissa Essaibi-George; Boston Police Commissioner Bill Evans; Chief of Staff Heather Campisano, Boston Planning and Development Agency; Director of Development Review Jonathan Greeley, Boston Planning and Development Agency; Journalist/Television Personality Janet Wu; Chef and Owner Dare to Taste Jen Royle; Kahleil Blair “Maverick” JAM’N 94.5; and President and Founder of the Anthem Group, Chris Sinclair.  Guest of honor was City Council Vice President Sal La Mattina, who is leaving the position after 30 years of service!

ABCD’s Buona Sera wouldn’t be possible without our generous Restaurant Hosts:

Antico Forno, Artu Rosticceria and Trattoria, Asaggio, Boston Sail Loft, Cantina Italiana, La Famiglia Giorgio’s, Massimino’s Cucina Italiana, Prezza, Ristorante Euno, Ristorante Fiore, Ristorante Saraceno, and Terramia Ristorante.

Special appreciation also goes out to Wine Reception sponsors WilmerHale for hosting the reception and to Whole Foods Market for supporting expenses with a generous gift card; local North End merchants Cirace Liquors for generously donating the wine.

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Bail reforms working in other states

By Katie Lannan

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

BOSTON — As state senators prepare to take up a bill this week that would overhaul the state’s bail system, one Massachusetts sheriff said he’s seeing positive signs from other states that have undertaken bail reform.

Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian last week attended a Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime & Incarceration summit at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., and returned armed with business cards from officials in Tennessee and New Jersey, whom he hopes to put in touch with lawmakers here.

Tennessee and New Jersey recently reformed their bail systems, and Koutoujian said law enforcement from those states could serve as useful resources for Massachusetts legislators mulling similar changes.

“They’ve had really good results, and the great thing was, the results they’re getting out of New Jersey are completely consistent — the numbers are almost identical — to the results they’re seeing out of Tennessee as well, which is interesting,” Koutoujian told the News Service. “It validates the numbers are consistent and real, basically.”

New Jersey’s bail reform — a move away from a cash-based system to one involving a tool to evaluate a defendant’s risk of fleeing or causing danger to the public — took effect on Jan. 1, 2017. By Aug. 31, the state court system there reported that the number of people in jail before a trial had dropped 15.6 percent since the year began, from 7,337 people to 6,195.

Of the 29,637 eligible defendants arrested from January through August 2017, 8 percent were released on recognizance, roughly 71 percent were ordered to participate in some form of a pretrial monitoring system, and 17.4 percent were placed in detention.

A major package of criminal justice reforms the Senate plans to debate on Thursday includes measures intended to address an August ruling by the Supreme Judicial Court that judges cannot set bail “higher than necessary to ensure the defendant’s appearance” and “that a judge may not consider a defendant’s alleged dangerousness in setting the amount of bail.”

The ruling came in a case filed by Jahmal Brangan, who was held at the Hampden County jail for more than three and a half years because he was unable to post the $40,000 bail after his 2014 armed robbery arrest.

“A bail that is set without any regard to whether a defendant is a pauper or a plutocrat runs the risk of being excessive and unfair,” Justice Geraldine Hines wrote in the decision shortly before retiring from the high court. “A $250 cash bail will have little impact on the well-to-do, for whom it is less than the cost of a night’s stay in a downtown Boston hotel, but it will probably result in detention for a homeless person whose entire earthly belongings can be carried in a cart.”

The bill (S 2185), according to a Senate Ways and Means summary, abolishes cash bail for juveniles and requires judges to consider a defendant’s ability to pay when setting bail for adults. Judges would be given additional options besides cash bail, including unsecured bonds and a wider range of pretrial conditions, and the bill would require that conditions imposed be the least restrictive necessary to ensure the defendant will appear in court.

Judges would be prohibited from setting bail so high “that the defendant represents, in good faith, that he or she cannot afford” it, except if the judge finds the risk of non-appearance is so great that no other conditions would ensure the defendant would come to court, and that the defendant is likely to be incarcerated if convicted. In such cases, the judge would have to orally or in writing explain those findings for the record.

The judge would also have to explain “why the commonwealth’s interest in the secured bond amount outweighs any likely adverse impact on the defendant’s employment, education, mental health treatment, substance or alcohol use treatment and primary caretaker responsibilities.”

The bill would also require the development and use of a risk assessment tool for bail determinations, and expand the ability of pretrial detention for defendants determined to be dangerous, according to the summary.

Whether the bail changes ultimately become law would depend on the level of support they receive in the Senate — where lawmakers filed 162 amendments to the bill — and in the House, where leaders have not yet specified what criminal justice reform measures they intend to pursue.

Rep. Claire Cronin, the House chair of the Judiciary Committee, has been meeting with representatives to discuss criminal justice, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo has enlisted former Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Roderick Ireland as an advisor.

In a letter to Cronin earlier this month, six members of the House Progressive Caucus — co-chairs Byron Rushing and Tricia Farley-Bouvier and Reps. Mary Keefe, David Linsky, Jay Livingstone and Jay Rogers — identified bail reform as one of their priorities.

“Instituting a risk-based approach to pretrial release detentions would allow persons who cannot afford money bail to avoid incarceration, losing employment, and having to find emergency childcare, all while saving the state money,” the letter said. “Massachusetts should focus the money spent on unnecessary incarceration for pre-trial individuals who pose little threat to public safety towards expanding programs that encourage an alternative route to incarceration like restorative justice or diversion programs.”

Read more: http://www.lowellsun.com/breakingnews/ci_31401924/bail-reforms-working-other-states-koutoujian-says

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Galvin says New Shadow Law Removes Layer of Protection for Historic Parks

By Beth Treffeisen

Gov. Charlie Baker recently signed a home-rule petition into law that would allow Millennium Partners to move forward with building a 775-foot tower on the site of the city-owned Winthrop Square Garage, bypassing two existing state laws that protect the Boston Common and Public Garden from new shadows.

Mayor Martin Walsh introduced this bill last April for a “one-time” exemption to the state shadow laws, citing the reported $153 million sale of the property would bring to the city. The Boston City Council approved sending the bill to the State House in a 10 – 3 vote.

 

“The bill passed removed a layer of protection for historic sites but it doesn’t mean the project is exempt from other processes,” said Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin. “Millennium wouldn’t be able to build this building without that exemption but it’s still fuzzy on how it’s going to go moving forward.”

Galvin said that although this project skirts around the 25-year-old state shadow laws that have shielded the downtown historic parks from excessive building shadows, there is still more to be done.

The project, which is set to break ground next year, is still under going the Article 80 process with the City, has yet to complete the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) report, and still needs to gain the approval of the Federal Aviation Administration before it can reach its proposed height.

In addition Galvin said there hasn’t been a wind study or a complete shadow study that goes beyond the downtown parks into the surrounding historic neighborhoods.

“The process is going to go on,” said Galvin. “A layer of protection has been removed, but the building is not exempt from the process.”

As part of the MEPA report, Galvin who is the Chair of the Massachusetts Historical Commission will work towards determining the effect the proposed tower will have on historic buildings and sites downtown.

Galvin said that although the bill may have taken away a layer of protection for the Public Garden and the Common there are other buildings and historic architecture that needs protection as well.

“I look forward to continuing to work with Mayor Walsh, the Friends of the Public Garden and other stakeholders on the short-term and the long-term improvements to the Boston Common that are possible because of our collaborative efforts,” said State Rep. Jay Livingstone.

 

The Friends of the Public Garden worked with the developers Millennium Partners to come to agreement that would invest $125,000 a year for 40 years towards a fund for the upkeep of the Common, Public Garden and Commonwealth Avenue Mall.

 

The Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay (NABB) said that this is not the outcome they had hoped for but understand that the City said that this is a one-time exemption and offered further study and protections for the Boston Common, the Public Garden, and the Commonwealth Avenue Mall from development and its subsequent impacts from mid-town.

Vicki Smith the executive director of NABB said that the neighborhood association would continue to request shadow studies and wind studies on new development in the Back Bay that negatively affect Copley Square and the Commonwealth Avenue Mall.

“Given the dramatic number of new buildings under construction and consideration it is more important than ever to protect and preserve our increasingly used green spaces,” wrote Smith. “They are precious and significantly contribute to what makes the Back Bay so attractive to both residents and visitors.”

She continued, “On any given day virtually year round, there are people from all over Boston and the world in Copley Square and on the Mall. NABB will continue to advocate for the protection and enhancement of these iconic spaces for future generations.”

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