Community Featured Government Real Estate

Greenway Funding and Lease Renewal Talks in Final Stages

A consortium of Greenway stakeholders are close to a long-term solution to solve the persistent Greenway funding question. A 10-year lease renewal to the non-profit Greenway Conservancy would include a significantly reduced State contribution, at a fraction of the $2 million current annual funding level, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation. The State’s lower contribution would be replaced by new commitments from a group of abutting property owners, developers and the City of Boston. In a draft memorandum of understanding being distributed, the combined funding level could be greater than that provided by the State although with a term less than the ten year lease itself. The Conservancy itself would continue its own income-generating operations (food trucks, carousel rides, etc.) and private fundraising, that currently funds 60% of its ~$5 million budget. The agreement between parties is still preliminary and could change before the June 30, 2017 deadline,

For the first time, abutting building stakeholders and city officials appear willing to make a lasting commitment to the ribbon of parks that string through downtown Boston from the North End to Chinatown. Through its transportation arm, MassDOT, the State controls the parks that make up the ceiling of the O’Neill Tunnel.

The arrangement would bring a new role for the City of Boston that could better integrate the Greenway with other city parks and resources. The Mayor’s Office and State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz are participating in the negotiations as are representatives from A Better City to bring in surrounding property owners that have historically funded less than 3% of the Greenway’s budget. The City could also source future funding from the sale proceeds of the Winthrop Square development.

Greenway Conservancy Executive Director Jesse Brackenbury said he could not provide details of any draft agreement, but confirmed the optimistic tone of the ongoing discussions:

Productive conversations continue with the State and other stakeholders about putting The Greenway on a stable, long-term footing. The Greenway is an asset for economic growth and a destination for Massachusetts residents and visitors. We remain confident of a shared resolution that is good for the park and for the public.

For its part, the Conservancy staff continue to work on generating income from various activities throughout the parks. Now that the Spring weather is here, the Greenway’s carousel is open and the food trucks have returned to the parks. The Open Market in the Wharf District parks is back on Saturdays. Fitness programming, generally free to participants, has also returned with a full complement of activities.

Coming in June/July will be a zip line at Parcel 12, the ramp parcel between the North End and Faneuil Hall / Quincy Market. Subject to permitting, a 20-foot tall zipline will be installed along the Surface Road side of the parcel, across from the Dock Square garage. Surrounding the highway entrance/exit ramps, Parcel 12 is currently vacant with a yellow text-based public art piece on a fence. The effort to cover the highway entrances has stalled despite the specific requirement in the Central Artery / Big Dig legislation that promised the covers.

Also new this year, a beer garden, operated by local brewery Trillium, will open this summer on the Greenway across from Rowes Wharf at High Street. The effort is a pilot to showcase craft beers and will have a capacity of up to 400 people. The beer garden will be open 4pm-10pm weekdays and 11am-10pm on weekends.

Continuing the annual public art program, this year’s theme is “Playful Perspectives” featuring optical illusions. One large exhibit will be installed in the North End (Parcel 10) featuring the Ames Room. Another one in the Wharf District will be movie-related.


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