By Dan Murphy
At the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay’s annual meeting at the Algonquin Club on Wednesday, Sept. 27, Greg Galer, executive director of the Boston Preservation Alliance, recalled how the nonprofit organization spearheaded the successful effort to save Fenway Park in 1999.
“Just like at Fenway Park, we still hear the developers cry that it doesn’t make economic sense to save our historic landmarks,” keynote speaker Galer told the standing-room crowd. “It’s so easy to lose these treasures…if we don’t remain vigilant.”
Galer said that Boston needs to find a “sweet spot” ” that allows the city to advance while preserving its history.
“It’s important not to decry change,” Galer said. “Change is okay; it’s how you manage that change.”
Still, Galer cautioned that residents, who see the city’s historic landmarks each day, might become jaded and take them for granted.
“We can’t forget that preservation is an active process,” Galer said. “Historic buildings don’t grow back once they’re demolished. I fear these little changes will happen, and one day, we wonder what happened to our historic city.”
NABB board member Elliot Laffer, meanwhile, described the current proposal to convert Haddon Hall, the office building at 29 Commonwealth Ave., into a private club with 350 seats for eating and drinking, 17 guests room and a gym, as an “important and difficult project.”
Besides the potential traffic impact, Laffer said the project as currently proposed would also result in the loss of six, metered parking spaces in front of the building that would be converted into valet spaces.
Laffer encouraged those in attendance to attend the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals hearing on the matter at City Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 31, at 11:30 a.m.
Board member Anne Swanson also unveiled NABB’s new history book, which she edited,” entitled “Back Bay – A Miracle of Preservation.”
Howard Kassler was awarded the Paul Prindle Community Leadership Award while Ellen E. Rooney received the Mary Natale Citizenship Award.
“All the time and effort I have put in was compensated because I got back so much more than I put in,” Kassler said upon receiving the award.
At meeting, the slate of 44 directors was also ratified for one-, two- or three-year terms, including nominated officers for 2017-2018: Chairman Martyn Roetter, President Vicki Smith, Vice Chairman Susan Ashbrook, Vice President Paula Griswold Treasurer Steven Sayers and Secretary Patricia Corrigan.