Greenway Fountains & Plantings Update

Pictures may be all we see of some North End fountains this year. Click picture to see damages of fountain infrastructure on the Conservancy’s website. (RFKGC Photo)

The fountains in the North End/Waterfront area of the Greenway continue to be plagued by operational problems and it appears several sections will have a delayed start-up or won’t be working at all this season. A recent email from Nancy Brennan, Executive Director of the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, highlighted a number of operational issues. I have excerpted the sections relevant to the North End / Waterfront area. With the Greenway in its early years, let’s hope these are growing pains and not the start of a bad recurring pattern. Pictures of the damaged fountain infrastructure can be found at the Conservancy’s website.

Ms. Brennan also provides an update on the latest plantings. Here’s the update:

Wharf District Parks

Fountains. A vehicle, or vehicles, drove on the Rings Fountain basin pavers sometime over the winter. This caused many of the adjustable jacks that support the basin pavers to fail. The MTA was aware of the damage and ordered replacement jacks before the lease was signed to support repair in the spring. In mid-April the Conservancy’s Park Operations staff and the MTA discovered that many more supports had failed. The Conservancy consulted with the jack manufacturer and distributor and it was determined to switch to a more substantial jack which has a higher minimum height which will deliver greater strength and less downtime for future adjustments and repairs.

The Conservancy has 100 of these replacement jacks and we are in the process of restoring the fountain basin. Once this is complete we will fill the basin with water and commission the feature for the summer. We anticipate full operation by June 19th.

The “Harbor Fog” water feature near Rowes Wharf is currently operating as planned.

Plantings. The New England native plants that make up the plantings in the Wharf District parks started blooming in late April. The Conservancy added a new planting of Beach Plum, a familiar and beautiful costal plant, was added adjacent to the Mothers’ Walk, close to Rings Fountain area. Recently, our subcontractor Valley Crest completed final contract maintenance with some replacements of shrubs and perennial plants. We are also working on a fertilizing and slice-seeding program for the lawns throughout the parks. The irrigation system had some minor delays, but now is operating.

North End Parks

Fountains. The fountains in the North End Parks are designed to suggest the former Mill Stream which was in this location in the 18th century. The fountain is actually two completely separate fountain systems. The Parcel 8 fountain is the northernmost one and the Parcel 10 fountain is the southernmost one.

Parcel 8: The Parcel 8 (northern) fountain is operational.

Parcel 10: On May 19th when the MTA and the Park Operations staff opened the vault hatch to the fountain, they saw that several feet of water had entered the vault during the off-season. The MTA provided labor and equipment to pump the vault out and it was immediately apparent that the fountain controls, pumps and appurtenances were a total loss. Cause for the flood has not been determined. The Conservancy’s insurance carrier is currently analyzing the event. The MTA continues to support the clean-up effort and has supplied skilled labor to provide temporary power so that the vault room can be dried out and repairs can begin. We are assessing ways that the fountain can be made operable this spring. A complete rebuild may not be possible for some time, possibly not until next winter.

Plantings. Recently, Valley Crest replaced some shrubs and perennial plants. The yellow magnolia, ‘Elizabeth’, was a highlighted show stopper this spring as the days grew warmer.

The North End Parks are the first location for the Conservancy’s organic landscape practices. Earlier this spring we applied a coat of compost and nutrients to the lawns and applications of compost tea to the planting beds. This program will continue throughout the year and expanded to other park areas. We have been working through some minor irrigation issues to efficiently deliver water. Our next steps are to complete pruning maintenance and analyze growing conditions around the pergola and perennial beds.

More information can be found at the Conservancy’s website: