Longtime Friend and Advocate

Beatrice Nessen

Beatrice Nessen has always cared about open space and urban quality of life issues. As a child, she remembers walks with her father in the Arnold Arboretum who had a passion for trees and passed on his knowledge by quizzing her on the names of the trees they passed. She learned about the different leaves, bark, tree shape and diversity of flora in the Arboretum.  Not surprisingly, she feels greenspace is an invaluable resource to commune with nature, walk through, and view the city from a distance. She says that “Parks are essential to make a city livable on a human scale.”

Beatrice was first introduced to the Friends as a representative of the Boston League of Women Voters to a citizens’ group concerned about the threat of huge shadows on much of the Public Garden from the proposed Park Plaza Development Project.  The advocacy by a small group of area residents, property owners, theatres, businesses and the nascent Friends of the Public Garden eventually turned the tide of public opinion to defeat the development.  Over many years, a tough battle was fought by Henry Lee, Stella Trafford, and other citizen activists to get the present Shadow Law Protection legislation passed so the parks could be protected against encroachment and damaging shadows from development around them.

Continuing the environmental theme throughout her life, professionally she spent her career in urban planning and public policy spending many years at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection during the Boston Harbor clean-up effort. Now, in her “retirement” she is on the Board of the Friends, Chair of the Common Committee, on the Horticulture Committee, the Parks Committee and the Friends liaison to the Boston Preservation Alliance translating her passion for parks, open space and trees into a vital voice for the work of the Friends. Given her expertise in government and environmental reform she is an important contributor to the Friends current efforts to continue to maintain strong legal shadow protections for the Parks.