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Press Release from the Office of State Representative Aaron Michlewitz, January 2011. Contact Blake Webber, 617-722-2488.

State Representative Aaron Michlewitz Files Legislation Reforming Greenway
Calls for more transparency, greater role for Leadership Council

State Representative Aaron Michlewitz filed legislation this month that would change the way the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy operates and how they would interact with the surrounding neighborhoods and the state. The legislationwould give the Greenway Leadership Council, a group of residents from the neighborhoods that surround the Greenway, veto power over the entire budget for Greenway Conservancy. With veto power over the budget, the funding mechanism for the Conservancy would become more of an open and transparent process involving all the parties.

“When the legislature first addressed the Greenway several years ago, our ultimate goal was to provide the best system of parks in the state, and a Conservancy that works with the neighborhoods to provide this.” Said Representative Michlewitz. “By adding a system of checks and balances to the process we not only move closer to this goal, but we do so in a more transparent way where everyone concerned will have a say in the process.”

The legislation also extends the funding agreement between the Greenway Conservancy and the Commonwealth’s Department of Transportation another five years. The current funding agreement expires at the end of June 2012. Under current law the state is obligated to fund half of the operation and maintenance budget for the Greenway Conservancy.

Representative Michlewitz added that he was eager to work with all the parties involved with the Greenway, whether it is with the Conservancy, the Leadership Council, the state Department of Transportation, the City of Boston, and the residents. “The goal is for everyone to work together to create the best possible Greenway for the residents. The only way to do that is to sit down with everyone involved and find the best solution. I look forward to continuing to do so in the coming weeks and months.”

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Rep. Michlewitz continues to show great leadership for the Greenway and for his district. Thanks for taking this step toward improved governance, Aaron.

  2. 1. No one will ever get the Conservancy operators to comply with Open Meeting Law or Public Record Law requirements. That's been tried before. They formed as a 501c3 specifically to escape the public integrity and accountability laws.

    2. The so-called Leadership Council, charged with representing the public interest, is a rubber stamp; giving them a chance to vote on the budget accomplishes nothing.

    3. Management of this 10-acre sliver of park should cost no more than a couple of hundred thousand dollars a year; NYC's Central Park costs $30,000 a year per acre, and that's CENTRAL PARK! If MassDOT sought competitive bids as it should, the real cost of maintaining this park would be determined. All the rest is spent on feather-bedding, make-work, and fund-raising, including lobbying for more public money. Now the Conservancy will form a BID, a private taxation district — nothing is ever enough. (The City of Boston will also lose about $100,000 a year in property taxes, since the $3 million in BID fees will reduce the taxable net rental income of the participating commercial properties.)

    4. The Conservancy originally agreed to fund all their operations privately…but immediately, they got $10 million in public cash for "start-up." As soon as they took responsibility for actual work, that private-funding agreement was dissolved; they got themselves a special law, a land lease, and state funding for half of whatever budget they dreamed up — which was slated to bloat up to $11 million a year, over a million dollars an acre! The salaries of the administrators total about a million a year, including the Executive Director at $225,000.

    Rep. Michlewitz should be filing to terminate the Conservancy's lease when it expires in 2012, not to extend it to 2017. If this group of corporate lobbyists gets another five years to spread their tentacles, we'll never get rid of them; they'll finally get the 99-year lease they wanted in the first place, over which time they will bleed the taxpayers of hundreds of millions of dollars, while controlling the uses and users of our public land (they generously designated a few “free speech zones” for us). Tell Rep. Michlewitz, as well as Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, to end the Conservancy, to halt this unconscionable waste of scarce public resources and intolerable privatization of the public realm.

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