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The Charles River Conservancy and Google Maps Unveil never-before-seen Digital Views of the Charles River

Specially collected imagery from the Charles River is now accessible online


Cambridge, MA – December 10, 2015 – Today, Google Maps and the Charles River Conservancy (CRC) will announce a special collection of imagery for Google Maps Street View. The 360-degree imagery will allow online users to access views of the Charles River as seen if positioned directly on the water and from public paths around the Charles in Boston and Cambridge. The new imagery will be officially announced during an event at Google’s Cambridge offices featuring readings and conversations from CRC’s River Stories III, a collection of memoirs, poems, reflections and artwork about the Charles River by local writers including NPR’s Tom Ashbrook who will M.C. the event. The imagery, which was collected by water and land with Google’s high-tech Trekker camera using a DCR golf cart and a boat, will be unveiled on a projection screen during the event.


“It is the hope of the Charles River Conservancy that the ability to experience the Charles River online will also lead to more active and engaged stewardship of the river and its surrounding parklands,” said Renata von Tscharner, Founder and President of the Charles River Conservancy.  “The Charles has come a long way from its dirty past because people in this area have committed to being advocates for the river. We even have people swimming in it now, and we think having it live online can help grow that local love and appreciation for the Charles in the digital era.”


“Given the critical role that the Charles River plays culturally and environmentally for Boston and Cambridge, it was a natural candidate for a special collection,” said Deanna Yick, Street View Program Manager. “The Charles River is home to the Head of the Charles and Boston’s Fourth of July celebrations. It’s where Boston goes to play, where students go to learn, and it is simply such an important feature of the city historically. We are especially proud to partner with the Charles River Conservancy in making the imagery of the Charles more accessible online.”


To access the imagery, click here.


About the Charles River Conservancy

About the Charles River Conservancy: The Charles River Conservancy is dedicated to the stewardship, renewal, and enhancement of the urban parklands along the Charles River, for the enjoyment of all. The Conservancy promotes the active use and vitality of the parklands, increases recreational and cultural opportunities, and works to ensure the beauty and integrity of this extraordinary public resource. Follow CRC on Twitter @CharlesRiverCRC or at You can also find us at


By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor of Commercial Property Executive After more than ten years of fundraising, setbacks and design changes, Boston’s long-awaited skatepark is just a few months away from becoming reality with the help of a $1.5 million contribution from Vans, a footwear retail chain based in Cypress, Calif. rendering of skatepark site“We are really proud to be a part of this historical project and to bring a worldclass skate park to Massachusetts, the original home of our founders, the Van Doren family,” said in a press release Vans President Kevin Bailey. “We look forward to celebrating the park opening alongside the whole community,” he added.

The announcement was made by the Charles River Conservancy, a nonprofit group that works for the renewal of the urban parklands along the Charles River. Van’s donation adds to the $3 million that the nonprofit managed to raise over the past decade from various sources, including the Lynch Foundation for which the park will be named, the City of Boston, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Boston Redevelopment Authority, and more than 400 skaters who also offered their support in the design stages. Additionally, Vans will chip in with $25,000 each year to the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) for ongoing maintenance of the skatepark over the next seven years.

The 40,000-square-foot Lynch Family Skatepark will be created on a former brownfield under the loops of the iconic Leonard P. Zakim Bridge in the North Point Park in East Cambridge. A team of architects from Canada-based Stantec and landscape architecture firm Halvorson Design Partnership designed the skatepark, while ValleyCrest Landscape Development will serve as general contractor for the project and California Skateparks will build the park. The construction crews will break ground on the project sometime during this fall, the Charles River Conservancy announced. The development team has yet to determine a final date of completion. The park will be managed by DCR and will be open for free for skateboarders, BMX freestyle riders, in-line skaters, scooter riders and athletes in wheelchairs. Once open, the venue will also house large-scale professional skating events, two of which will be held each year by Vans.

North Point Park occupies 8.5 acres of land in Cambridge and was opened in 2007 as mitigation for the parkland lost during the Big Dig, the megaproject that rerouted the elevated John F. Fitzgerald Expressway that ran through the heart of the city into a 3.5-mile tunnel.



By Jaclyn Reiss, Boston Globe

A $1.3 million proposal to renovate a 1-mile strip of Charles River walkways and green space along Greenough Boulevard in Watertown and Cambridge has drawn praise from joggers and cyclists, but also criticism from residents worried about traffic.

The proposal calls for narrowing Greenough Boulevard’s four vehicle lanes to two in most areas between the Eliot Bridge in Cambridge and Arsenal Street in Watertown, using the extra space to widen the 7-foot walkways to 10 feet, build a green-space buffer between traffic and pedestrians, and add pocket parks along the route. The plans also call for paring back some vegetation to improve views of the Charles, and upgrading storm-water drainage so roadway pollutants no longer run into the river.

Though traffic analysts studying the proposal say the effect on traffic would be minimal, anticipating that the most congestion would be seen on the eastbound side during the morning rush hours, some local residents said backups would be unavoidable.

“Reducing Greenough Boulevard to just one lane each way would cause a major area of confusion where it intersects with Soldiers Field Road and Memorial Drive,” Paul Gorenstein, a Coolidge Avenue resident, said at a July 10 forum. “If it’s restricted, there would be more traffic. I think improvements could be made without narrowing the roads.”

Gorenstein said he also worried that drivers would divert to Coolidge Avenue, which is somewhat parallel to Greenough, to avoid traffic.

“There’s already a lot of bus traffic on Coolidge Avenue bringing people back and forth between Watertown and Cambridge to business parks,” he said. “Burdening traffic to Coolidge Avenue would have a very unfair impact on us.”

But many joggers and bicyclists flocked to the forum to show their support for the project, saying the riverside pathways’ current condition and proximity to speeding cars prove too frightening for families and individuals to use regularly.

Ethan Davis, chairman of Watertown’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee, said he thinks “traffic concerns are wildly overstated and flatly wrong.

“During rides, I paid particular attention to traffic in that area, and I’m impressed with how little traffic there is,” Davis said.

He also said he thinks four lanes for cars proves “disproportional” for the amount of traffic, and it encourages fast driving.

“This would not only remove something actively bad for community, but would replace it with something terrific,” he said of the proposal.

The state Department of Conservation and Recreation would help oversee the project, as the state owns the dilapidated walkways snaking along the Charles River, but money for the design and construction is being raised privately. The Wellesley-based Lawrence and Lillian Solomon Foundation, a nonprofit that supports Greater Boston’s parks and greenways, has already pledged $500,000 to the project, and will soon embark on a fund-raising campaign for other private donors to contribute so construction could start by next spring.

State and local officials say the improvements would bolster activity along the mile of waterfront, which many described as an underused gem within walking distance for 80,000 people, according to state figures.

“This stretch of the river is so outstanding — it’s one of the most beautiful parts of the Charles River basin,” said Herb Nolan, deputy director of the Solomon Foundation. “To be able to reclaim and bring people back in a comfortable park-like setting would be a tremendous transformation and a huge asset to Cambridge, Watertown, and Boston. It would be one of the best 5-kilometer recreational loops in Greater Boston.”

The new walkways would also connect to the 16 miles of trails along the Charles River between the Watertown Dam and the Museum of Science, and would create a 3-mile loop with the Herter Park area in Brighton, said Dan Driscoll, the DCR’s director of recreational facilities planning.

“This is one of the biggest gaps — there are some points where there is no pathway at all,” Driscoll said.

At the forum, a resident, who declined to give his name, said traffic along Greenough Boulevard has built up increasingly in the past half-dozen years, and he doubts that taking away two car lanes would have a minimal effect.

“I think this is a great project, but I think we would have to deal with a lot of unintended consequences,” he said. “If you drop a lane, you don’t have to be a genius to know that will greatly exacerbate the morning and evening rush hours.”

Watertown Town Councilor Angeline Kounelis said she was worried about previous renderings that showed a fairly short left-turn queuing lane from Greenough Boulevard onto Grove Street. However, a new design expanded the length of the turning lane, which she said proved satisfactory.

“DCR did listen to my concerns about the queuing lane onto the Grove Street extension,” she said. “The proposed changes are certainly a much-warranted safety improvement from the original rendering.”

Joan Blaustein, who lives across the street from the proposed improvements, said she settled nearby with the Charles River in mind, and supports the idea of upgrading access for residents.

“This is one of the reasons we all like to live here,” she said. “Streets are for every user — bikers and pedestrians as well as cars. No longer do we put cars at the top of the food chain.”

Other local residents said they liked the enhanced safety offered by the current proposal.

“I have been walking along the river for almost 30 years, and I’ve been almost killed many times trying to cross Greenough Boulevard,” one resident said. “It’s terrifying. There’s no reason this needs to be a highway — we need a park.”

“As a runner, I keep thinking there’s this beautiful river I’m not quite connecting to,” another resident said. “As a biker on this section, it’s a little scary’’ navigating between the pedestrians and the traffic. “I’m not sure if I want to run over runners or be hit by cars.”

The state will accept public comments about the proposal through July 31; send e-mails to For more information,

To see full article, click here.


by Renata von Tschaner, Cambridge Chronicle.   Full post in Cambridge Chronicle can be viewed here.

Cambridge is a bicycle and pedestrian-friendly city and getting more so all the time. As Hubway stations multiply and cycle tracks appear, at least on planning documents, users of healthy, carbon-free bicycle transportation can look forward to improved conditions and infrastructure in the future.

The current situation, though, is another story, particularly for those who want to reach or cross the Charles River. Western Avenue has been under construction for years. The Anderson Memorial Bridge near Harvard Square offers narrow through-lanes and a single, crowded, partially obstructed sidewalk while renovation continues long past the original completion date.

Now, because of delays at the Anderson, MassDOT has taken restoration of the Western Avenue and River Street bridges off its schedule for state-wide bridge repair under the Accelerated Bridge Program. With that delay, projected improvements such as crosswalks and stoplights with adequate pedestrian phases are also on hold, while on the Boston side the unsignaled intersection at the River Street bridge will present its cross-if-you-dare challenge until further notice. For Cambridge cyclists who use the Dr. Paul Dudley White path to reach many parts of Boston, as well as pedestrians and runners who want to enjoy the river parklands on both sides, these dangerous bridge intersections are an impediment that shouldn’t wait for the next round of transportation bond funding.

The Charles River Conservancy has taken the lead in promoting underpasses as part of the bridge restorations. Cambridge’s elected representatives support them, and the Cambridge City Council just unanimously passed a resolution introduced by Mayor Maher and Councilor Carlone, urging MassDOT to proceed. The delay in construction gives MassDOT more time to incorporate the underpasses into its planning, but that process must begin right away. Permitting for this project will be lengthy, and needs to be in place when construction finally happens.

But when will that construction begin? If MassDOT’s bridge program no longer includes the Western Avenue and River Street bridges, then some other funding vehicle needs to be found—and soon. These bridges are more than a local amenity. They are essential links in the regional transportation grid, and they are unsafe, both for the heavy volume of automotive traffic they carry, and for the many cyclists, runners, skaters, and walkers who try to navigate them.

Perhaps the cities of Boston and Cambridge can work together to find funding for at least the underpasses. Perhaps our elected officials can persuade MassDOT not to delay restoration of these vital bridges until 2019. Access to the Charles River is too important to set aside. Healthy, carbon-free commuting and recreation are core values. Our public officials must find the means to do this bridge work soon, and do it right.

Renata von Tscharner is president of the Charles River Conservancy.


The team behind the Charles River Skatepark unveiled the latest plans for the $2.5 million skateboarding facility Wednesday at the Boston Public Library …(more)


Steel erection on the North Bank Bridge in Boston, USA, was completed last month (October), marking a milestone in construction of the new footbridge …(more)