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Greenway Conservancy Annual Meeting: Business Improvement District Unlikely But Community Members Expected to Pay [Video]

This video shows business part of the Annual Meeting of the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, held on October 3, 2012 at Atlantic Wharf in downtown Boston. The Greenway Conservancy is the private, non-profit organization that manages the State-owned Greenway parks under a lease from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT).

Newsworthy elements from the meeting include the lower likelihood of a Greenway Business Improvement District (BID) and a re-affirmation of the financial contributions required of Board Members, including new community members. See the below timeline with some highlighted sections and commentary.

00:00 Introduction by Board Chair Georgia Murray

Chair Georgia Murray moderated the agenda that included a brief review of the past year, an audit report and financial discussion. The composition of the Board of Directors and certain procedures of the Conservancy are transitioning to comply with the new Chapter 242 State legislation, passed in July 2012, including the requirements of the Open Meeting and Public Records law.

07:40 Board Member and former Greenway Leadership Council Awards

10:40 New Board Member Appointments

As part of the new reform legislation, the Conservancy’s Board of Directors will be expanded to 21 voting members, including six from the surrounding neighborhoods (2 North End, 2 Chinatown, 1 Wharf District, 1 Leather District) and two seats representing the State (MassDOT and EEA). James Chan, former GLC member, was nominated by the Chinatown Neighborhood Council and voted on to the Board. Similarly, Clinton Bench from MassDOT and Philip Griffiths, the Undersecretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, were also voted on to the Board. As part of this process, Mr. Bench requested an open meeting regarding governance and transparency to meet the mission of the Conservancy.

14:30 Officer Nominations and Vote

19:30 Audit Report

The accounting firm gave a clean opinion of this year’s audit.

29:00 Business Improvement District (BID) Update and Financial Discussion

New legislation regarding BIDs would make business contributions largely involuntary (Ed: more of a tax). Chair Murray commented that this requirement presents a roadblock to gain support for a Greenway BID and lowers the probability of its initial formation.

43:30 Financial Obligations For Community-Nominated Board Members

Your editor asked whether the $5,000 guideline for Board members will be a consideration in the upcoming appointment of community members on the Board of Directors. The answer was “yes,” a personal financial and/or fundraising commitment would be required.

Editor’s view: A $5,000 obligation excludes the vast majority of the Boston population from participating as a Conservancy board member. Even in the relatively well-off North End, the majority of residents have an income level between $46,000-$74,000, implying the Conservancy’s expectation would be 7% to 11% of an average resident’s total income. Board member contributions are largely immaterial to the overall Conservancy budget making its unyielding requirement unnecessary, and not in the spirit of the recent reform legislation. This position is the latest example of why the Conservancy has a reputation of being elitist and out-of-touch with the community. Watch the video to make your own assessment. (For more on the board requirements, see Greenway Conservancy Tells Neighborhoods “Pay to Play” – $5,000 Yearly Minimum For New Reps)