New legislation seeks to hand over a public park to private interests

July 14, 2008

Today’s Boston Globe features an editorial by urban designer and ACE member Shirley Kressel criticizing proposed legislation to privatize the Rose Kennedy Greenway. The editorial points out that the Greenway Conservancy, a coalition that introduced and is now promoting this legislation, is comprised mostly of corporate executives and lobbyists instead of environmentalists and park advocates.

North End Park from massturnpike.com

If passed, the bill will largely benefit the corporations represented in the Conservancy, granting them control over the area’s development and giving them land use rights similar to ownership. The group is also demanding $11 million a year in public money, after promising to cover all costs themselves.

Kressel writes that this plan resembles the development of Post Office Park, developed by a coalition of many of the same business interests represented in the Conservancy. She notes that despite large tax subsidies, the Post Office Park is private property, where the public is regularly ejected.

A zoning board has already ruled in favor of a Conservancy member developer whose planned tower would adversely impact a local garden, saying that if it was a bad idea, the Conservancy would have objected to it. With private control of the park, Kressel writes, "…the community's role in future decision-making would be marginal."

(Photo from massturnpike.com)