Yearly Archives: 2014

 

In the Beacon Hill Times

The Esplanade Association, the non-profit friends’ group that helps to support the landmark Charles River Esplanade park, has named Tani Marinovich to be its new Executive Director. Tani has formally been with the Association for over three years as the Director of Development, and has been serving as the organization’s Interim Executive Director since August. Prior to working for the Esplanade Association, Tani co-founded the Friends of the Esplanade Playspace that helped raise $1.2 million to build a state-of-the-art playground in the park. Ms. Marinovich will be the fourth Executive Director of the Esplanade Association since its formation in 2001.

“We are extremely excited about Tani taking on this new role. Her passion for the park and her commitment to the organization will continue to move us forward in making life better on the Esplanade,” noted Margo Newman, Board Chair.

Ms. Marinovich was unanimously voted in by the board after demonstrating her ability to successfully lead the organization, surpass fundraising goals, and overseing important projects like the Hatch Shell Oval Restoration.

In September 2013, the Esplanade Association launched a capital campaign to raise funds for the restoration of the Hatch Shell Oval lawn area. Construction on the lawn kicked off this October and will be completed in December 2014.

The Esplanade Association’s other recent projects include the $500,000 Eliot Memorial Revitalization, which was completed this summer. The organization also employs a full-time horticulturist engaged in tree and turf maintenance, as well as other activities that support the park. During last year alone, the Esplanade Association brought in over 2000 volunteers to the park to perform critically needed maintenance. 2014 also saw a fourth year of free, summer fitness programs known as “Healthy, Fit and Fun,” attracting over 6000 participants, as well as “Children in the Park,” a park camping program for children with otherwise limited access to green space.

As they look to 2015 the Esplanade Association is focusing on a new “Go Blue” initiative to incorporate more sustainable landscape practices to protect the park and waterways and combat climate change.

About The Esplanade Association

Founded in 2001, The Esplanade Association is a dynamic park friends group dedicated to making life better on the Esplanade. The Esplanade Association partners with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation as well as with other non-profit organizations, businesses, and individuals to complete important capital projects, to maintain and improve the park’s horticulture, and to establish and conduct life-enriching programs at the park. To learn more about the Esplanade Association, please call 617-227-0365 or visit www.esplanadeassociation.org.

 

Read the original article here.

 

by Matt Conti for the North End Waterfront

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Boston Public Works has released image renderings for the long awaited reconstruction of the North Washington Street Bridge, also known as the Charlestown Bridge. The design takes strong cues from the neighboring Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge.

The bridge connects the North End and downtown Boston to Charlestown, creating an important connection for commuters. In addition, it forms a major pedestrian path along the Freedom Trail.

The new span will be multimodal, allowing expanded space for bicycles and pedestrians. A special feature is to have landscaped viewing areas. Public Works has also indicated the possibility of renaming the new bridge to something more creative.

The new bridge will have two travel lanes in each direction. During construction, the bridge will remain partially open (2 lanes inbound, 1 lane outbound). The new structure will have new supports built up from the harbor and a concrete underside that looks similar to that below the Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge.

Construction is expected to begin in 2016 and take approximately four years, including the rework of gas lines and utilities that currently span the bridge. Most of the $100 million price tag is coming from Federal highway funds with the balance from the state.

More information and design views are included in the latest presentation shown below.

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Read the original article here.

 

by Nick DeLuca for BostonInno

Cambridge City Councilor Dennis Carlone

Cambridge City Councilor Dennis Carlone

It could be argued that transportation in Cambridge is in the midst of a renaissance. From vehicle side guards to bike and pedestrian safety, to the Grand Junction bike path, behind much of these initiatives you’ll find City Councilor Dennis Carlone.

A Cantabrigian for more than four decades, Councilor Carlone knows what it takes to implement smart transit strategy. With extensive experience in urban planning and architecture, he realizes that in a city as densely populated as Cambridge, transportation can be the driving force behind reimagining the cityscape.

And, believe it or not, he actually think the MBTA does a great job, despite what some of you think.

Nick DeLuca: Are you originally from Cambridge?

My wife Katie and I have lived in Cambridge for the past 40 years—basically our entire adult life. After moving here for graduate school, we both fell in love with the city and decided it would be a great place to raise our family. We still consider ourselves lucky to call Cambridge home.

Describe your background in urban planning, transportation, and local government.

Urban planning

I am an architect/urban designer in private practice since 1978, with a focus on creating sustainable, contextually-designed buildings and public spaces. Perhaps my most well known effort is the East Cambridge Riverfront Project, a nationally recognized urban design strategy that transformed 40 acres of underutilized industrial land on the Charles River into a mixed-use neighborhood that encircles the Lechmere Canal.

Transportation

Transportation, the movement of people and goods, is the largest form-giver of cities and an integral part of urban design. It can be in balance with city life, or it can overwhelm it. Needless to say, my goal is to strategically maximize transportation’s benefits while at the same time minimizing negative impacts. Transit gives great value and meaning to a place, but if uncontrolled it can make a neighborhood less inviting and less enjoyable.

Municipal government

In addition to my private practice, I also spent thirty years as an architect/urban design consultant to the City of Cambridge and the Cambridge Planning Board. Over that length of time, I witnessed many good things happen, but I also saw areas that could be improved. This experience inspired me to run for City Council last year on a platform of pushing for a new, citywide Master Plan. I am grateful to report that after some big debates at City Hall this year, we’ve finally reached consensus on the need for a citywide plan, and the work is now moving forward.

How do you commute to work?

I usually drive or walk, but I always look to schedule constituent meetings around council hearings to cut down on my transit time. My private practice clients are all out of town, so I drive or take the T to those meetings. Recently, I downloaded the Uber app, and I have to admit—the technology is pretty incredible.

Have you ever taken a road trip and if so, what describes a memorable moment.

I love to travel and explore new places, so it’s hard to pick a single moment. I’d say the most memorable was when Katie and I traveled through England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland early in our marriage. We were walking the medieval walls in York, England, and while photographing an ancient city gateway, it struck me how much I loved the beauty and importance of civic structures. I saw how city design could actually nourish society. That moment was the beginning of my desire to study urban design. It changed my life.

Do you think the MBTA is as bad as people make it out to be?

Given that the legislature has failed to provide sufficient funding for many years, I think the MBTA is actually doing a good job overall. Having said that, a lot more could be done to improve the system. In Cambridge, for example, many commuters need to get over to the Longwood Medical area, but the traffic is difficult during rush hour, and then it can be hard to get a bus during off-peak times. I am interested in dedicated bus lanes and better use of data to inform and improve the user experience. When it comes to the Red Line, the big problem is capacity during rush hour, especially as Kendall Square continues to grow. Not only do we need new subway cars, but we also need a new signaling and power system to enable the trains to run at more frequent intervals.

 

Dennis Carlone is on the Advisory Board of the Charles River Conservancy. Read the original article here.

 

by Nikki Chase for the Boston Herald.

Ross Miller, of Cambridge works on the lighting for an outdoor mural which will be hung on the Arsenal Mall.

Ross Miller, of Cambridge works on the lighting for an outdoor mural which will be hung on the Arsenal Mall.

This season, the Arsenal Project invites shoppers to take in a little scenery during the holiday rush.

Tomorrow, the Watertown shopping center unveils a 150-foot outdoor mural by artists Ross Miller and Nate Swain, the centerpiece of their “Light Up the Holidays” event.

Made from recycled vinyl billboards from Boston Building Wraps, the mural depicts all four seasons of the natural landscape behind the mall.

“We want to soften up the hard brick and concrete of the parking lot,” said Swain, a self-taught painter trained in landscape architecture. “When you’re sur­rounded by cars and concrete, it’s nice to have colorful things around you.”

Miller, the artist behind Cambridge’s “Winter Lights” project, brings the mural to life with 2,000 lights set on a timer­ sequence. During the day, the lights represent the sparkling river and, at night, the stars in the sky.

“Most people are not aware of the incredible natural environment behind the mall,” said Miller of the Charles River. “The mural is a depiction of an ancient, almost ancestral forest that might have been in a location like this before the mall was built.”

Swain and Miller started­ in October and continue to work on the project off-site in an empty space at the mall, before installing it on the blank wall facing Arsenal Street.

In the early stages, they worked with kids from Artists for Humanity, an organization in which both Miller and Swain are involved. The young artists helped paint the river and clouds and were paid for their work. “It was a rare and fun thing,” said Miller. “They brought their skills and learned something about doing a project larger than most of us have ever done before.”

The mural will remain at the Arsenal Project throughout the year.

The “Light Up the Holidays” event is free to the public and kicks off at 6:30 p.m. with live music, street performers and complimentary hot chocolate to help stave off the cold.

 

Read the original article here.

 

By Matthew Robare for the Allston-Brighton Tab.

The superintendent's residence at the Speedway headquarters building in Brighton, will be leased by the Department of Conservation and Recreation to the Architectural Heritage Foundation for rennovation and reuse. Matt Robare / Wicked Local photo

The superintendent’s residence at the Speedway headquarters building in Brighton, will be leased by the Department of Conservation and Recreation to the Architectural Heritage Foundation for rennovation and reuse. Matt Robare / Wicked Local photo

ALLSTON

When Kevin Allen, the program manager for the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Historic Curatorship Program, first became involved with Brighton’s historic Speedway Headquarters building, he was single. By the time of Saturday’s community meeting with residents, stakeholders and representatives of the firm whose renovation proposal DCR accepted, he was married and recently had a daughter.

The building sits on the corner of Western Avenue and Soldiers Field Road. Painted dark brown and draped with “Vacant” and “No Trespassing” signs, Allen said it’s been empty since the Fish and Wildlife Department moved out 10 years ago.

“It’s really kind of the origin building for the agency (the DCR) and what became the first regional, interconnected metropolitan park system,” Allen said. “This was one of the first buildings built in that initial wave of construction in 1899, so it’s really important to the agency.”

The property includes a house, which was the residence of the superintendent, Allen said. Attached to it were several stables and sheds housing the horses and equipment used to maintain the park and speedway, forming a courtyard.

There was also a multistory stable that was converted into a police station after the State Parks police were founded and two garages for automobiles built much later. Except for those garages, the property is on the National Register of Historic Places and was recently designated a Boston Landmark.

“There’s been some use off and on over the last 20 years since the state police left,” Allen said. “Overall, it’s clear that we’re at a turning point with it, as far as coming up with a solution for its preservation.”

Because of changes to the way the parks system is run, DCR no longer has a use for the building and with the costs of maintaining it so high, it was decided to turn it over to the Historic Curatorship Program. Allen said that the program works with private groups to find new uses for historic properties owned by the state that pay for their own upkeep.

“We’ve estimated that the rehab, just to bring the shell of the building to a usable condition, is $5 million plus,” Allen said. “That doesn’t include the costs to refit it for a particular use. When we determined that we wanted to do an outside partnership we put out a competitive request for proposal. That was about a year and a half ago that we released that. The program that this building is under allows us to put out a longterm lease, where the cost of the lease is basically invested in the management, the preservation and the maintenance of the property. We were really open. We had a couple public meetings, trying to get input from the neighborhood and from other preservation programs, just to help guide figuring out what it was going to take to get this to work out. It was very robust – we had six proposals. Six very good proposals and four finalists with a wide range of reuses.”

DCR ultimately selected Boston-based Architectural Heritage Foundation to redevelop the property. However, due to the high costs of renovation, it was agreed that there would have to be a for-profit component to subsidize the preservation work. Brighton Rep. Mike Moran had to get the law governing the Historic Curatorship Program amended to allow it, which took some time. AHF has partnered with Florida-based developer George Apostolicus to build condos on the side, tearing down the garages that aren’t part of the historic portions.

“Architectural Heritage Foundation is a preservation developer,” said company president Sean McDonnell. “The preservation piece is just to raise some money to do the preservation, but more importantly it’s also about how to get people in here doing fun things and getting them to come back and do them again.”

“Its true condition is reflected in its exterior condition,” Allen said. “Structurally, it was built incredibly well. Over the last 20 years we’ve kept the roof in decent shape and that really buys you a lot of time. There’s a functional heating system for part of the building, but for the most part there’s no functioning systems.”

Many of the building’s windows are boarded up, the paint is chipping and the courtyard was littered with debris. Other structural elements were sagging or appeared water damaged, although the roof was in good condition.

“When we started looking down the road of redevelopment, the central focus was, how we can preserve this building,” Allen said. “That was first and foremost. So we wanted to see if anyone was out there who had an idea that’s feasible, that has a business plan that can make financial sense that preserves this building basically intact.”

About 25 people attended the meeting. AHF has nothing set in stone, but they do have ideas about what to do with the space. McDonnell said that one of their sources of inspiration was Granville Island in Vancouver. An historic industrial area, he said it’s been redeveloped into a mix of uses with a public market, performance space and community space.

One aspect that residents, McDonnell, Apostolicus and Allen all agreed on was that what would really make the project is making use of the Charles River. But there are no crossings of Soldiers Field Road there.

“(AHF) has done that and been really successful with a lot of similar projects, where they’ve incorporated the new (use) with historic preservation,” Allen said.

The new building will have to be architecturally compatible with the old, Allen added. He compared the requirement to the Liberty Hotel’s incorporation of the Charles Street Jail.

McDonnell said that the new construction would take longer than the renovation and that, if all went well with designing and permitting, construction could start with nine to 12 months.

Allen said he hoped his daughter will be walking by the time of the ribbon cutting.

 

Read the original article here.

 

Posted on WickedLocal Cambridge

 

The Cambridge Arts Council and Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association is presenting an exhibit, Magazine Beach — A Place Apart, through Feb. 27 at Gallery 344, City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway, second floor. An opening reception will be held Monday, Nov. 17, from 6 to 8 p.m.

In 2015, landscape designs for Magazine Beach, Cambridge’s second-largest park, will be updated and its future cast. Magazine Beach — A Place Apart looks at the history of these 15 acres along the Charles River from a wooded island on a tidal estuary to its current form. It examines the forces that have defined it uses — for gunpowder storage, a river bathing beach, a boathouse for rowers, a storm water sewage treatment plant, and as a swimming, picnicking and recreation destination.

Admission is free. Gallery hours are Monday, 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Tuesday to Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Friday, 8:30 a.m. to noon. For more information, go to www.cambridgeartscouncil.org.

 

Read the original article here.

 

Busy Allston street set for bike lanes

By Nicole Dungca for the Boston Globe

The plan to remake the Cambridge Street overpass is slated to include a new crosswalk and signal for pedestrian safety.

The plan to remake the Cambridge Street overpass is slated to include a new crosswalk and signal for pedestrian safety.

Cambridge Street in Allston soon will get some new road stripes and long-anticipated bike lanes near Soldiers Field Road that should help allay community concerns about cyclist and pedestrian safety on the corridor.

Boston Department of Transportation officials say they have plans to restripe the street in the coming month, adding bike lanes near the Cambridge Street overpass on both sides that will take away a car lane in each direction.

 

The new lanes come just a few months after Allston residents rallied for a safer Cambridge Street, pointing out pedestrian and cyclist deaths that have occurred on the busy stretch near the Interstate 90 onramp.

The new bike lanes are part of a plan to remake the Cambridge Street overpass, a two-year, $10 million project that is slated to include a new crosswalk and signal to improve pedestrian safety.

Harry Mattison, an Allston resident who lives about 50 yards from Cambridge Street, praised the city’s transportation department and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation for making the bike lanes a priority.

“There’s a huge pent-up demand for people that want to and should be able to walk and jog and cycle safely through this important corridor,” Mattison said.

Officials say the removal of car lanes should help slow down traffic, which Mattison said is crucial to making the street safer.

“People drive on that road like they’re already on the Mass. Pike and they’re not,” he said. “They’re on a neighborhood street.”

Officials will be tracking use of the bike lanes, which will run from Soldiers Field Road to Brighton Avenue.

Some areas of the bike lane have already been put down closer to Union Square, and officials hope to replace the lanes with a cycle track in the spring.

 

Nicole Dungca can be reached at nicole.dungca@globe.com. Read the original article here.

 

by Jennifer Switzer for The Tech: MIT’s oldest and largest newspaper.

On Tuesday morning, alumni of Lambda Chi Alpha continued their 56-year-old tradition of repainting the Smoot markers on the Harvard Bridge. This year, the 179th Smoot included a tribute to MIT Officer Sean Collier.

On Tuesday morning, alumni of Lambda Chi Alpha continued their 56-year-old tradition of repainting the Smoot markers on the Harvard Bridge. This year, the 179th Smoot included a tribute to MIT Officer Sean Collier.

An anonymous donor has given the Charles River Conservancy 2.5 million dollars to install new lighting along the Harvard Bridge, with one condition: that the new lights be installed every 30 Smoots.

According to the Boston Globe, the design for the new lighting “utilizes energy-efficient bulbs on both the roadway and pedestrian path, adding lighting at a lower level to make the bridge both more attractive and safer.”

The request pays tribute to the 1958 prank by the MIT Lambda Chi Alpha (LCA) fraternity. Overnight, a group of LCA members measured and marked the length of the Harvard Bridge using Oliver R. Smoot ’62, then 5 foot 7, as a unit of measurement. They found the bridge to be 364.4 Smoots — plus or minus an ear.

Since then, the markers — repainted regularly by MIT students — have become a well-known landmark.

The Smoot markers were recently repainted by MIT LCA alumni. On Monday, “twelve alums of the Lambda Zeta chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha gathered at the chapter house to launch the Smoot painting task,” according to a LCA press release.

MIT’s LCA chapter was recently suspended by its national organization, closing the building for at least five years. Steven Pettinato ’80, president of the fraternity’s alumni corporation, referred to the markers as “an important tradition that transcends the issues facing the current local chapter.”

 

Read the original article here.

 

By Virginia Werner for the Portland Tribune.

Photo Credit: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: VIRGINIA WERNER - Human Access Project ringleader Willie Levenson peers over The Ledge, one of the next beach areas he hopes to promote for more public recreational access.

Photo Credit: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: VIRGINIA WERNER – Human Access Project ringleader Willie Levenson peers over The Ledge, one of the next beach areas he hopes to promote for more public recreational access.

 

When people look at the Willamette River, they might see a murky abyss, banked by large uninviting chunks of concrete. Willie Levenson sees a beach.

Levenson is the man behind the nonprofit Human Access Project, the leading advocacy group for increased waterfront access in Portland. After promoting swimming opportunities at three inner-city beaches on the Willamette, the Human Access Project is turning its attention to three new beaches.

It’s not a crime to have fun in the water,” Levenson says. “Sometimes I feel like Kevin Bacon in ‘Footloose.’ I just want people to know they can dance!”

Levenson and Human Access Project volunteers have worked the past few years to promote swimmable beaches at the bowl north of RiverPlace Hotel, an eastside site south of the Hawthorne Bridge and a third locale under the Marquam Bridge.

Last month, Human Access Project hosted 130 people on the Willamette River Swimming Hole Discovery Tour, a river excursion to explore and identify potential new beaches and swimming areas. While the free pint of beer was a draw, the real attraction was the chance to influence the river’s course.

Next swimming areas

As Levenson sees it, the next big opportunities for river access are found in the areas known as the Firehouse Dock and Beach, The Ledge, and the Kevin Duckworth Swim Dock.

“To me, the fact that we packed a boat full of people interested in commenting on the future of the Willamette sends a really strong message that this is an important issue to the people of Portland,” Levenson says.

He believes important issues gain momentum by word of mouth. Last summer Levenson started the River Huggers Swim Team to encourage swimming in the Willamette. He figured that if people saw others having fun in the river, they would follow suit.

Hilary Evarp, an original member of the swim team, says that using the river as a recreational option appeals to her, but she realizes there are factors that prevent more people from joining in the fun.

“People are afraid to get in. Either they think it’s dirty, or don’t like the fact that they are unable to see the bottom, or have concerns about boat traffic,” Evarp says. “I love it when I see a fish jump next to me. A lot of people don’t.”

But the river is cleaner than bystanders might think. In 1991, the city signed an agreement with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to reduce the amount of untreated sewage overflows into the Willamette. Referred to as the Big Pipe Project, the sewer system improvements that were completed by late 2011 eliminated most of the sewage overflows, except during unseasonably heavy rain.

Even with improved river water quality, access still remained an issue.

So Levenson and company cleared concrete and other materials from the ragged beach at Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park near RiverPlace, and convinced the city to install signs notifying people that swimming is permitted there. Over the past few years, they’ve been clearing an east-side site across the river, which Levenson dubbed Audrey McCall Beach in honor of the former governor’s wife. The beach has areas cleared for entrance by foot, and Levenson has seen several people sunbathing and entering the water near its edge.

Then, after obtaining the necessary permits, last July Levenson and his group of volunteers cleared away debris and opened up what they’re calling Poet’s Beach. Located near the Marquam Bridge in downtown Portland, the beach has been thoughtfully designed and includes a pathway lined with rocks inscribed with the poetry of local schoolchildren. To honor the original residents along the river, there also are Chinook words and their English translations.

Getting the city’s attention

Levenson’s movement hasn’t gone unnoticed by the city. Swimming Hole Discovery Tour participants were encouraged to share ideas with planners working on Portland’s next comprehensive land-use plan, designed to guide growth for the next two decades. Surveys were collected by Debbie Bischoff, the senior river planner for the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.

Bischoff will integrate the feedback into an updated Central City Plan for 2035. One of the aims of the project is to address challenges and opportunities for the Willamette waterfront. This plan ultimately will replace the 1987 Willamette Greenway Plan, intended to enhance the recreational properties of land along the Willamette River.

“Now we’re looking at what we’ve heard from the public at a variety of events, looking at public policy and code and figuring out how to best implement our vision for the future,” Bischoff says.

As Levenson sees it, if people start swimming in the river, they will care more about its well-being and become advocates for keeping it clean.

The Human Access Project will raise funds to add ladders and “Swim at your own risk” signs to the river’s edge. Other short-term goals include a plan to humanely control the geese population, attract more members to the swim team, and create a map that will help people discover the Willamette.

Changing hearts and minds, however, remains the largest obstacle in determining the destiny of the river.

“The biggest challenge is public perception and getting people to reconsider their relationship with the Willamette,” Levenson says. The Human Access Project, he says, is challenging people to answer the questions: “What does it mean to you to live in a green city? Should you be able to swim in a river that runs right through the middle of your town?”

 

Read the original article here.

 

By Eric Levenson for boston.com

The landmark US-Chinese agreement pledging to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions was hashed out over a lunch in Boston Harbor, and the Charles River’s pollution inspired the deal.

The Washington Post reports that Secretary of State and former Massachusetts Senator John Kerry took Chinese senior councilor Yang Jiechi to lunch at Legal Sea Foods Harborside on October 18 for preliminary talks about the climate change agreement. There, Kerry pointed to the Charles River and talked about its sewage-filled past and its less-sewage-filled-but-still-kinda-sewage-filled present.

“It used to be a symbol of everything wrong with the environment,” an official familiar with the exchange told the Post, summarizing Kerry and Yang’s table talk over a seafood meal. “But through smart, persistent government action it is now one of the cleanest in America.”

That lunch was a “key moment” in the secret negotiations, the Post reports, and led to Wednesday’s joint deal between the world’s two largest sources of greenhouse-gas emissions.

In the agreement, the US set a new target of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by 26-28 percent by 2025, compared to 2005 levels. China, in turn, agreed its emissions would peak by 2030 and the country would increase its use of green energy.

You can reach Eric Levenson at eric.levenson@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @ejleven. Read the original article here.

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