A record-breaking, standing room only crowd of almost 200 were welcomed to the 46th Annual Meeting of the Friends by board chair Anne Brooke and vice-chair Colin Zick.
Attendees listened appreciatively to a powerful presentation by Liz Vizza, Executive Director, celebrating the Friends work in 2015 to continue the care and preservation of trees, sculpture, and turf in the three parks. Her remarks also highlighted the success in creating a dynamic park space at Brewer Plaza, continuing renovations of the Boylston Street border in the Garden, and the upcoming restoration of the fountain at the George Robert White Memorial. Liz praised the hard work of the volunteer Rose Brigade and announced the creation of a new volunteer Border Brigade while reminding the attendees of the upcoming fun and engaging public programs, Duckling Day and Making History on the Common. She shared that a Boston Common User Analysis survey will be taking place through the fall, providing real numbers about who, how and when people use the Common and what park users’ needs and issues are.
Advocacy for the parks is crucial, the threats are real and involve public safety, proposed building development on Tremont Street that exceeds the zoned height limit and could set a dangerous precedent, as well as the need to increase funding for the Boston Parks Department. Liz commended the Department’s hard work to keep the Boston Common, Public Garden and Commonwealth Mall healthy and beautiful.
The Annual Meeting served as the occasion to introduce the Henry and Joan Lee Sculpture Endowment in honor of the Lees’ legacy of commitment to the parks and their sculpture. The fund’s mission will be to provide for the long-term care for 42 pieces of public art in the Common, Garden, and Mall, the largest concentration of public art in the city.Regular annual maintenance prevents much more costly restoration.
In keeping with the sculpture theme, David Dearinger from the Boston Athenaeum gave a fascinating presentation about the Common, Garden, and Mall as “Museums Without Walls” and the history of the sculpture in the three parks. Reminding the attendees about the legacy of outdoor art, Dr. Dearinger shared the little-known history of some of the important pieces of sculpture.
The evening concluded with a reception where longstanding and new Friends enjoyed the opportunity to meet.
Photo credit: Michael Dwyer