Emerald Necklace Conservancy Celebrates 20th Anniversary

The Emerald Necklace Conservancy has a lot in store as they cerebrate their 20th anniversary this year.

At the 2018 annual meeting on Thursday, March 22, at the Landmark Center, the Emerald Necklace Conservancy President Karen Mauney-Brodek announced some big plans for the upcoming year including better outreach, updating the visitor center and new public pieces of artwork.

Mauney-Brodek said when she first, came to Boston over a year ago she was surprised to hear how little visitors and even long-time Bostonians knew about the Emerald Necklace and how it all connects.

“Parks play a really important role, and it is our job to elevate the understanding of these parks, how they are supposed to fit within Boston,” said Mauney-Brodek. “It is important that people learn about what Fredrick Olmsted envisioned and sought out for these parks in the 1880s.”

The goal is to create more visibility, navigation, and educational tools for visitors to the parks.

This year, she hopes to create a wayfinding pilot system within the parks to let travelers and commuters know that the parks are connected. The Emerald Necklace hopes to explore different options such as an app for a smart phone or better signage to see what works best and implement permanent solutions later.

Another major change will include updating the Shattuck Visitor Center at 125 The Fenway from holding their offices to being purely an educational center that tells the story of the parks.

“Hopefully people will take notice and understand the story of the water and how the parks came to be,” said Mauney-Brodek.

Over the past year the park has had over 1,000 volunteers, numerous events including the first-ever Movie Night in the Fenway Victory Gardens and upgrades seen to the Rose Garden. The biggest event of the year, Party in the Park raised over $200,000 to help restore grass and take care of trees throughout the conversancy.

The presentation included some updates such as the Muddy River Project, which will go through the second phase throughout 2018. Along the newly daylighted river that runs along the Emerald Necklace, there will be restoration and cleanup work throughout the year.

In addition, the Emerald Necklace Conservancy has expanded their educational programs that teaches students the importance of taking care of the public parks from third grade up to high school.

This past year, the Conservancy has worked with the Charlesgate Alliance to bring back parkland and open space under the overpass that runs through what was once a connecting park from the Fens to the Esplanade.

“It used to be one of the most important connections from Commonwealth Avenue Mall to the Fenway, but we’ve allowed over time some of our great spaces in Boston to degrade, and it is not seen as a park anymore,” said Mauney-Brodek. “It’s been a great to work with the neighborhood groups to figure the role this space can play.”

At the annual meeting guests were presented with “Parks as Infrastructure for Living,” a series of succinct presentations from area thought leaders on the multifaceted role of parks in urban settings.

Topics and speakers included “Water” with a presentation from Pallavi Kalia Mande, from the Charles River Watershed Association; “Infrastructure” with Dan Adams & Marie Law Adams of Landing Studio; “Access” with Peter Costa and Alyson Fletcher from Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates; “Art” with Jen Mergel, public art curator and “Common Ground” with Revered Mariama White-Hammond, Minister for Ecological Justice, Bethel AME Church.

“Our parks have an important role to play,” said Rev. White-Hammond. “They create a space for people of all backgrounds to come together and figure out how to live together. Parks can and should be our common ground.”

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