In response to the recent media storm and subsequent inquires from State officials, the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway Conservancy defended its public/private model at a Board meeting held on February 7, 2012.
As seen in this video of the meeting, Chair Georgia Murray presents the “facts as we know them” listing the group’s accomplishments and how it benchmarks itself to justify its expenditures relative to other signature parks. The Board also responds to charges related to its use of State money and how it determines executive compensation. The latter issue started the recent hubbub when Executive Director Nancy Brennan sent an errant email to a Boston Herald reporter (See: Our Little Secret: Misdirected Email Reveals Salary Details at Greenway Conservancy). The presentation uses many of the same charts and figures shown in “Facts about the Conservancy” a document recently distributed to its email list.
The Conservancy benchmarks its expenses based on a select group of “signature” parks in other cities. I cringe when I hear folks trying to bring something to Boston that works in New York City or Chicago. Trying to copy others rarely results in “world class” anything. Along those lines, I asked why no Boston parks were included in the comparison, such as the iconic Public Garden, the famous Esplanade or the community favorite, Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park. The Conservancy’s answer was that those parks are not comparable to the challenges and features of the Greenway. The last time I checked there are plenty of fountains, gardens, public art, wi-fi, programs and other amenities in these downtown public parks operated by the City and State. By the way, half of the Greenway fountains in the North End area have not worked for years.
In the latter part of the video (30:00 minute mark), you can also hear my commentary on the $2.9 million custom carousel plan that spurred quite a discussion on restrooms! Apparently, that is one thing the Conservancy is unwilling to spend money on.
Earlier in the meeting, the Conservancy introduced and approved a new transparency policy. (See Video: Transparency Policy Discussion & Vote at Greenway Conservancy Meeting on February 7, 2012)