Fenway Organizations Get First Round of Grants for Yawkey Way Easements

By Jordan Frias

The first round of Fenway Park Demonstration Project money was awarded to several nonprofit organizations for beautification projects concentrated in the Fenway.

Recipients include the Fenway Civic Association (FCA), Emerald Necklace Conservancy, the Fenway Community Development Corporation (Fenway CDC), Artists for Humanity and the Trustees of the Reservation, who received a collective total amount of $180,000.

Funded projects include two large-scale murals on Ipswich Street, the installation of a sculpture in East Fenway and landscape improvements in the Emerald Necklace along the Muddy River.

Money for these projects comes from a 10-year agreement made with the Red Sox in 2013 to allow certain easements on Yawkey Way during game days and events, according to the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA), the agency that disperses the money.

“The criteria for the funds come from conversations with members of the community, particularly the FCA,” said Mark McGonagle, community affairs liaison for the BRA. “In the summer of 2015 we confirmed with [community members] that neighborhood beautification was a community desire.”

Jason Talbot, special projects director for Artists for Humanity, an organization which supplies urban youth with paid employment in art and design, said designs for the Ipswich Street mural are “to be determined,” but will be based on community input.

“You will be able to see [the art] from the pike so we want it to really be a great uplifting piece that brightens the area and makes people feel welcome and happy as they come by,” he said. “We want to give [the street] some love. We want to beautify that street, that area, because it gets a lot of foot traffic.”

Another art project sponsored by these funds includes the installation of a sculpture at Symphony Community Park in East Fenway, created by local artists Jacob Kulin.

Marie Fukuda, FCA board member and president of the Friends of Symphony Park, said the $50,000 awarded to the Friends of Symphony Park through the FCA will cover the delivery, lighting and unexpected storage costs for the sculpture.

“We had done a partial fundraiser for the granite seat wall and for the foundation of the sculpture,” she said. “We had a little hiccup in that we didn’t know how large the storage costs would be, so we’re really grateful the funds came in place for that monthly charge.”

The Symphony Road Community Garden, a few streets down from Symphony Park, will receive $25,000 for the pruning of trees, fence repairs and the replacement of two 14-year-old raised garden beds through the Trustees of the Reservation, according to Boston Garden Stewardship Manager Jeremy Dick.

“All told, it’s basically an upgrade by bringing new life to the garden that’s there,” Dick said. “The gardeners do a great job on their individual plots, so money from the grant would improve all other elements of the garden so they can look just as good.”

Susan Knight, interim president of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, said the $40,750 awarded to her organization will be used to improve a stretch of the Emerald Necklace, spanning from the Conservancy’s Shattuck Visitor Center to the pedestrian footbridge, sometime in the fall.

“It’s an area where the soil is compacted, so this work would allow for de-compacting and adding nutrients to the soil,” she said. “It’s really a chance to restore this small woodlands area that’s here in the Back Bay Fens and improve the look and health of that area.”

The Fenway CDC, an agency committed to preserving affordable housing and supporting positive development in the neighborhood, will receive $25,000 for two proposals it submitted. One is to manage the geese population in the Emerald Necklace and Muddy River and the other is to install a pair of solar-lit bulletin boards that would display information about events in the community.

“We think both of [the proposals] address the problems that are salient to the people that live here. We don’t know which project we’re doing yet, but we’re really happy to have gotten this opportunity,” said Geoffrey Tam, Fenway CDC’s civic engagement coordinator.

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