Facelift planned for Esplanade’s Eliot Memorial


By Sara Brown, Boston Globe Town Correspondent

A neglected part of the Charles River Esplanade honoring Charles Eliot is set to receive an overhaul, creating a more fitting tribute to the man who created the Metropolitan Park System.

A renovation plan, co-funded by the Department of Conservation and Recreation and The Esplanade Association, would add seating and new trees to a stretch of the Esplanade by Community Boating that houses the Eliot Memorial, a rectangular shaped monument to one of the architects of the park system.

The rehabilitation is a “very important project to us about a much used and very public part of the Esplanade,” said Sylvia Salas, executive director of the Esplanade Association.

The more than $50,000 in design fees will be funded jointly by the Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Esplanade Association, and funding for the site construction, which will cost between $300,000 and $5000,000, has yet to be determined. Construction on the project would take place over spring and fall 2012.

Rick Corsi, project manager for the DCR, said the project would include the installation of new trees, shrubs, and irrigation, improvements to soil conditions and the lawn, a reconstruction of paths and the entry to Community Boating, and cleaning and adding seating to the monument.

The renovation is “a simple project that does a lot of really good things,” said Rob Adams, a senior associate with Halvorson design.

Invasive Norway maple trees will be removed and replaced with new trees, Adams said, and a lost shrub layer will be introduced, restoring part of the Esplanade to conditions planned by Arthur Shurcliff in the 1930s.

The project will also add bicycle parking to the area, as well as adding water and electricity that could pave the way for food service trucks.

After the renovation, the entrance to Community Boating will be “more welcoming, more attractive, Adams said, and it will also create potential for an outdoor classroom at Community Boating.

The statue will be emblazoned with a map showing the breadth of Metropolitan Park System, the organization Eliot, the son of a Harvard president, founded in 1893. The park system falls within a 15-mile radius from the Boston State House, stretching from Quincy to Waltham to Lynn.

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