Joining with many local civic and community organizations, the Friends would like to express our great concerns about HempFest and its impact on Boston Common and our neighborhoods.
The event is currently being advertised to take place on Boston Common on September 14th, 15thand 16th. We are hoping the City could find a more appropriate location for it that does not negatively impact so many communities. If this is not possible, we urge limiting its duration to one day.
The Common is an extremely popular space, hosting hundreds of permitted events for different interest groups across the city and beyond. This event is tantamount to an occupation of the Common, which feels under siege by the huge number of tents, vendors, people smoking marijuana, and loud and profane music and speeches from the stage. Families do not feel comfortable or safe bringing their children to the park when the event is occurring, and the day after the event the Common is filled with trash and debris strewn everywhere, far beyond anything we see from any other permitted use of the park.
Relocating the event or reducing it to one day would ease the burden on the City budget for cleanup costs – $14,000 in overtime expended by the City in 2016. It would make the park accessible for residents who travel across the Common daily and visitors who come from out of town – a peak time for tourists, as well as returning college students and their families.
Boston Common is the center of civic life for our City, and our most sought-after greenspace for recreation, reflection, celebration and protest. It is the neighborhood park for over 35,000 people in five neighborhoods, and a destination for millions more throughout the year from across the City as well as the nation and the world. Boston is considered this year’s No. 1 tourist destination and this event is not only disruptive but has a very negative impact on our reputation.
With support from other local organizations including: Beacon Hill Civic Association, Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay, Downtown Boston Residents Association, Chinatown Resident Association, Bay Village Neighborhood Association, Beacon Hill Business Association, and schools and community centers, we look forward to working with the City to find a resolution that supports free speech as well as the rights of park users and neighbors.
We strongly encourage you to reach out to your city councilor, or the Mayor with your concerns.