This is a first-hand report with highlights from the Annual Meeting of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, held at the Metro Center at 101 Federal Street on October 5, 2010.
Introductions were made by Board of Directors Chair, Peter Meade, and Executive Director, Nancy Brennan. Dorothy Terrell, Governance Committee Chair, announced a slate of Board and Leadership Council nominees that were unanimously confirmed.
Nancy Brennan gave a pictorial overview of the Conservancy’s operations on the Greenway. The fiscal year ending June 2010 was the first full year of operations since the Conservancy took over control of the parks. Especially notable were strides in sustainability, additional chairs/tables, branding signs and wi-fi. In addition, six food carts were added for the 2010 season and activity carts were rolled out on a regular basis to the various parks.
During the year, the Conservancy added skateboarding deterrents and seawall stones around the rings fountain. After the meeting, I confirmed with Steve Anderson, Director of Operations, that some features of the North End fountains were still being repaired, but should be fully operational by the Spring of 2011.
During the 2009 season, the volunteer program had 65 participants with 20,000 event attendees and 77,000 carousel riders. In the Spring of 2010, there were 140 volunteers at the clean-up events.
Kate Gilbert Miller, Director of Public Programs and Outreach, reviewed the event season highlighted by the Earth Day Concert, Mother’s Day performances with the Boston Ballet, Thursday evening concert series and the “big hammock” display. The rolling teapot for Rose Kennedy’s birthday attracted over 500 attendees. There were 18 events with a 20% increase in attendees during 2010. The Conservancy reported that no events were held in fiscal 2010 that required the public to pay, other than vendor programs such as “Boston by Foot” walks.
For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010, the Conservancy generated total revenue of $4.3 million, of which $3.0 million came from the state government. Private contributions totaled $341,600. The annual gala brought in $226,050.
Total expenses were $4.4 million of which $3.1 million went toward operations and programs, $542,000 to administration and $729,000 toward fundraising. The auditors noted that the 71% in operations and programming ranked well versus peer entities. Included in the $3.1 million of “programs”, park operations totaled $2.0 million and public events cost $525,331.
The Green & Grow program, included in programming, came under some scrutiny at the meeting when it was disclosed that the teen apprentice and intern program cost over $250,000, serving only 9 teenagers. This question made it into the Boston Herald which published an article on the issue.
Salaries totaled $1.6 million for the fiscal year and represented 36% of total expenses. Benefits added another $389,234 to compensation costs. Contracted services, including consultants, totaled $837,271.
The Conservancy’s endowment stands at approximately $13.5 million, up from $12.1 million last year.
Capital improvements increased by over $300,000 for projects such as chairs/tables and the wi-fi rollout. The existing carousel that the Conservancy wants to replace brought in revenue of about $60,000. The new food carts generated about $15,000.
Public attendees asked for additional breakdowns such as the maintenance contract with Work Inc., but Nancy Brennan noted that the State’s new requirements for additional disclosure do not go into effect until 2011. (See State Demands Greater Accountability From Greenway Conservancy.)
With an operation and maintenance cost of $3.1 million, the Conservancy is spending $234,000 per acre, using 13.2 acres for the Greenway. It was noted that a recent benchmark review was performed including Bryant Park in New York City, Millennium Park in Chicago and Discovery Green in Houston. The study indicated those “prominent” parks were in the same range as the Greenway. The study noted that “regular” parks cost about $15,000 per acre. At a recent meeting, it was noted that the State cut its budget for the Esplanade to $400,000, a State park that is three times larger than the Greenway. (See Benchmarking the Greenway.)
The Greenway Problem
Boston Magazine recently published an article called, The Greenway Problem, claiming that a re-branding was in progress for the Greenway because the name had become so tarnished. Peter Meade, Board Chair, and Nancy Brennan, Executive Director, denied such an effort was taking place. According to the article by Francis Storrs;
“The problem with the Greenway is everyone has been trying to make it something bigger than it is,” John says (founder of the branding company supposedly hired). “The best way to add value isn’t to build new museums or carousels; it’s to link it to what’s already there” — the newly accessible North End restaurants, the high-end hotels with expansive front yards, and the harbor now visible between the buildings. It’s the harbor, in fact, that inspired the new name for the area: the Waterfront District. It will be rolled out officially this spring.”
Greenway Leadership Council
Ann Thornburg, Chair of the GLC, gave an overview of the advisory council’s activities.
The GLC is having a community meeting at the Long Wharf Marriott on November 10, 2010 at 6:30 pm. Guests will include Bud Ris from the New England Aquarium, Vivien Li from the Boston Harbor Association and Toni Pollack from Boston’s Parks and Recreation Department.
Priorities for the GLC include the new carousel study, Chinatown enhancements, Parcel 21 infrastructure repair, Parcel 7/9 development and a review of the food vending program.
The last topic on the agenda was the proposed Business Improvement District (BID) for the Greenway District. I will post a separate article with details on this issue.