The Boston Harbor Association (TBHA) held its annual meeting this week at the Fairmont Battery Wharf Hotel, a new addition to the Boston waterfront and Harborwalk. For the past 18 years, Vivien Li has been at the center of the TBHA as its Executive Director. Besides the regular business of the organization, new trustees were elected and several awards were presented. The highlight of the evening was a historical photo presentation by Peter Vanderwarker.
Matthew Sterne, General Manager of the Fairmont Battery Wharf Hotel welcomed the TBHA attendees. Vivien Li noted the public amenities at the Fairmont that were supported by the TBHA, including the pocket maritime museum, harbor overlook, water taxi station, interpretive signage as well as its part of the Harborwalk.
The manager of the Fairmont was proud to announce that the hotel is 2nd in guest satisfaction among all Fairmont Hotels and also 2nd in guest satisfaction on Trip Advisor for the Boston area. Sterne attributed the high satisfaction ratings to the hotel’s location in Boston’s North End/Waterfront area. It was noted that a NY Times reporter recently stayed at the facility, purportedly to do research for an upcoming article. Lastly, Sterne welcomed guests to a discounted $1 per oyster special at Sensing that evening. The Fairmont underwrote the reception and meeting as a contribution to the TBHA.
In the business section of the meeting, TBHA’s Treasurer noted the challenging times for non-profit organizations. He was pleased the TBHA broke even last year and is maintaining approximately $330,000 in cash reserves.
Nominees for TBHA Officers were introduced and elected by voice vote. Notably, long-time Chairman, Bob Kenney handed the position to Brian Dacey of Twining Properties. As part of its Young Professionals Initiative, it was noted that 4 of the 10 new trustees were under 40 years old.
In her Executive Director’s report, Vivien Li reviewed the TBHA’s activities over the past year. In addition to a plethora of educational walks, harbor outings and student events, the TBHA worked closely on several new developments defining Boston’s waterfront. As previously mentioned, the Fairmont Battery Wharf opened earlier this year with several public amenities. In addition, the New England Aquarium opened its $10 million harbor seal pavilion. Through the efforts of the TBHA, the outside of the aquarium’s pavilion is open to the public with translucent panels to view the seals. In a particularly challenging project, the harborwalk section behind the Federal Reserve building finally opened as did 470 Atlantic Avenue, which will be a stop on First Night. TBHA continues to advocate for expanded open spaces along the waterfront, unique ground-floor facilities for the public and additional water transportation facilities.
TBHA was also an advocate of bringing the Volvo Ocean Race and the Tall Ships to Boston’s waterfront. Harbor beaches from Winthrop to Quincy are clean enough for swimmers 90% of the time, highlighted by TBHA’s “Back to the Beaches” program.
The TBHA is preparing a white paper on “green” water transportation for the coming year. The theme of environmental sustainability has taken on major prominence in TBHA activities. It was noted that wind turbines were recently introduced at Deer Island with several more planned on the Harbor Islands.
Presentation of Awards
Robert T. Kenney – Governor Francis W. Sargent Award for long-term commitment and diligence in working on behalf of Boston Harbor. In recognition of outstanding leadership in promoting Boston Harbor’s clean up and HarborWalk, and for long-term service as Chairman of TBHA.
Joe Fallon –John Ames Award for outstanding commitment to Boston Harbor and TBHA. In recognition of exceptional activation of Boston’s Harbor and the waterfront, including generous support and leadership in bringing the Volvo Ocean Race to Boston, and the development of the Fan Pier site along the South Boston waterfront.
Ben Lynch and DEP’s Waterways Regulation Program –Lydia Goodhue Award for excellence in presentation of issues related to a clean, alive and accessible Boston Harbor. In recognition of long-time leadership in activating and promoting Boston’s waterfront for the public’s use and enjoyment.
Tom Kinton –Senator William M. Bulger Award for outstanding creativity in solving a major problem of Boston Harbor. In recognition of sustained efforts to promote the improvement of Black Falcon Cruise Terminal and expansion of the cruise industry in the Port of Boston.
Speakers told interesting stories relating to the vast changes on the Harbor and waterfront, going back to when Christopher Columbus Park used to be a chicken warehouse. The importance of working with private developers was emphasized as well as with public officials/agencies.
The keynote speaker was Peter Vanderwarker, award-winning photographer and author, presenting “Boston’s Waterfront: A Photographer’s Observations over Time. Vaderwarker’s photos told the history of the Central Artery project and how it shaped Fort Point Channel.
The Boston Harbor Association works toward a “clean, alive and accessible Boston Harbor.” Their website can be found at www.tbha.org.