Weir alright: After 30 years, Dukakis, others break ground on Muddy River cleanup

Dukakis at groundbreakingDukakis at groundbreakingWork officially began today on a project to restore the Muddy River to something closer to what Olmsted might recognize - and to reduce the odds of another devastating flood along the normally placid series of brooks and ponds at the heart of the Emerald Necklace.

Officials said the first phase of the project, which will last three years and cost $31 million, will involve dredging current channels, replacing some culverts with larger pipes or opening them back up as streams and moving some nearby roads.

Motorists can expect periodic delays during the project, which will include construction of a dam-like weir upstream to prevent flooding during the work.

But when done, officials hope, we won't have to worry about a repeat of the Flood of 1996, when a torrent of Muddy River water flooded nearby areas and shut the Kenmore Square T stop for two months. In 2010, the MBTA had to repeatedly shut service on the Riverside Line when the river again flooded, forcing the T to dam up the line's entrance to Kenmore to prevent a repeat of 1996.

Among the most noticeable changes: The grassy field in front of Landmark Center, formerly a parking lot, will be largely torn up to let the Muddy run free across the land once more. Officials held their formal groundbreaking today on that parcel.

Former Gov. Michael Dukakis, who still takes regular walks along the river and who spearheaded efforts more than 30 years ago to have it restored, praised a tent full of officials and residents from Boston and Brookline for never giving up on the river and the Emerald Necklace.

He recalled the Emerald Necklace's nadir, in the 1950s and 1960s, when state officials agreed to pave over the lagoon for a Sears parking lot, when officials almost gave permission to the Red Sox to pave over the Victory Gardens for another parking lot and when the state came close to building multi-lane highways along and across the Necklace.

Today, he said, Boston has become a world leader in parks. He said that after a recent trip to Paris, he realized that "Boston today is more beautiful than Paris, and I mean it."

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    google am you friend

    But since reading from context and/or using the intertubes is apparently a struggle for you...

    Daylight (v) = dig up and reveal the stretch of river which is currently buried and flows through an underground conduit from the field in front of Landmark Ctr to Simmons College. Jughandle (n) = the partial loop of roadway (Fenway street?) that facilitates passage from Riverway North to Park Drive North.

    it's called "context." Giving

    it's called "context." Giving you the benefit of the doubt, let's say you aren't from here and are unfamiliar with the area.

    If you cannot deduce the meaning of those rather elementary terms from the written literature (much less the additional links posted by the owner of this website), then congratulations; you probably passed the MCAT—memorize and forget!—but failed freshman lit.

    Cripes

    The reeds that provide cover

    The reeds that provide cover for the "pickle park" are non-native invasive Phragmites and contribute to the Muddy River's flood problems so their removal is part of the project, although that is one of the last phases so it won't happen for a few years.

    Less fires, better park and a better city

    Removing the reeds will hopefully reduce the number of fires in that part of the Necklace. It will most likely reduce the other sources of heat as well.

    But where can a person find pickles amongst the reeds?

    Without unnecessary heat of any kind, and with an open water way, the already enjoyable Victory Gardens will hopefully blossom into greater beauty.

    What is pretty amazing is how much the Emerald Necklace is moving toward a peak of beauty and life. With the expansion of the MFA, cleaning the Muddy River, the continued beauty of the Fenway Victory Gardens and the rose garden, Bostonians can feel pride in having such a rich collection of gardens and public institutions that support the beauty of the area.

    At least one study by the Trust for Public Land ranks Boston as # 3 in parks according to their criteria. I believe that access to parks, the outdoors, to living in an environment that is clean, void of unnecessary noise (e.g., a person yammering loudly on a cell phone while walking through the Victory Gardens) can reflect back a vision that life can be orderly ( or at least not chaotic) and good. This can go a long way toward balancing the temptations of gangs, drugs and violence. Perhaps this is a quixotic belief but I believe that clean, well maintained parks are vital to the treatment of the social and family disorders that put young people on paths toward drug and alcohol abuse and violence.

    Although I think Boston

    Although I think Boston architecture is often under-rated, there's no denying that we can't compare at that level. The built-scape of Paris is stunning.

    But in terms of greenspace? Yeah, Boston's is nicer. We not only have quite a bit more (and the two cities are remarkably similar in size), but it is accessible and integrated throughout the urban landscape to a degree that Paris just does not come close to. (Also, we spend more money and effort keeping it nice, although I think that's more a matter of us being more solvent at this point in history).

    Boston's green space nicer than Paris? More effort on maint?

    I don't think that I can believe that: 1) our green space is nicer than Paris; or 2) we spend more money and effort on keeping it nice. I can believe that we have more of it, however, and if so, that's well done on our part.

    Every time I come home from Paris and set my eyes upon the Common, I think about how inferior it is to the main parks in Paris in terms of both appearance and maintanence. Really, I just do not see how there can be reasonable comparison between the Jardin du Luxembourg and the Common. Even the privately-maintained Public Garden doesn't really come close.

    The "neighborhood" parks might be more comparable, but even in those, I think that their appearance and maintenance in Paris is, on the whole, better (there are certainly exceptions)

    I don't have (nor will I look for) any statistics on the money front, but given the generous public sector compensation in France, I find it difficult to believe that we spend more either. However, I don't think this matters one way or the other.

    believe what you want, but...

    Boston has six times the amount of greenspace per resident as Paris (~33m^2/resident - second only to Washington DC in major North American cities).

    The Jardin du Luxembourg is filled with lovely statues, but the lawns are spotty, the plantings are uninpsired, many of the trees are unhealthy and there's very little wildlife. Lots of big boring lawns you're not allowed to walk on though. Very impressive and imperial. Just not very hospitable. How many playgrounds have you encountered on random strolls through Paris? How many ball parks?

    The streets of Paris are densely packed, far more than Boston. While small front yards are common here in nearly every neighborhood, they are practically unknown in most of Paris. We have many many more trees. Seen from the air during summer, the color of Boston is primarily green. Paris is primarily the grey of stone and concrete.

    Paris is gorgeous. It is a city of the ages. But it is not particularly green, regardless of the impression one might get as a casual tourist. If one equates being able to see sky and open water and green things growing with beauty (a not unreasonable opinion), then Boston is indeed a beautiful city and it is not hard to accept Prof Dukakis's statement as a legitimate point of view.

    I guess reasonable people can disagree (and be civil!).

    This is interesting - it's precisely the perfectly manicured and lush lawns that I saw (was last there just under a year ago), combined with amazing displays of color in immaculately maintained flower beds that I was thinking of when I mentioned the Luxembourg. Certainly I would not expect, nor really want to see any real wildlife in that setting anyway, so that did not negatively impact it for me.

    As for playgrounds, I've encountered many, many of them around Paris, but they are generally where I would expect them to be - in the more residential sections of the outer arrondissements and where casual tourists don't typically go. Ballfields are certainly not common, but as you note, in a City of that density, that doesn't necessarily surprise me (certainly there aren't many ballfields in Manhattan, nor in the denser section of the outer boroughs. I use NYC as an example here, because as you point out, Paris is far denser than Boston).

    I think our different views might arise from our perceived purpose of a park. In general, I think I agree with you that they should be functional for the people - particularly in heavy residential areas. That said, I think that every great city needs to have some showcase parks in the "downtown" areas. Clearly ours are the Common and Public Garden, and I just don't think the Common, even the non-active recreation areas, is anywhere near up to snuff. The Public Garden is many times better, and certainly so far as American parks go, really, really nice, but I still don't think that it gets to the level of some Parisian or other European parks.

    Finally, I think that our park system, particularly the Olmstead parks, is great, and I am tickled pink that the Muddy is going to be restored. I also congratulate Mike Dukakis and the many others who fought so hard for this - because of them, we will all be a lot better off.

    Quality is more important than quantity

    Boston has six times the amount of greenspace per resident as Paris

    So the way I read that: Bostonians must devote six times as much effort spent inhabiting all that "greenspace" in order to keep all that it lively so that it doesn't fall into disuse and become a haven for crime and bums. There's few things worse in a city than a shunned greenspace (a vacant lot, I suppose, is worse).

    How much of that 33 sq m/resident is quality parks, versus how much of it is median strips and other dead greenspace? I know we have some good parks, but where's that number coming from?

    Quality, not quantity, is what's important. Especially if the city prides itself on environmentalism and social justice. Suburban sprawl can incorporate lots of greenspace, but it's clearly much more harmful to the environment to bulldoze natural areas in order to build subdivisions than it is to have a dense urban city with many natural reserves outside of it. Putting up greenspace does not make up for the destruction of natural lands caused by sprawl.

    I was there last month

    The park seemed to be in full use, although there were a lot of areas of just dust where there was a lot of use.

    They put out chairs for people to hang out in, and kids were steering boats in the lagoons with wooden pusher things.

    Beautiful Saturday - beautiful place full of human life.