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Finnishing the Emerald Necklace
By adamg on Wed, 09/30/2015 - 1:31pm
PRI interviews a Finnish landscape architect about everything that's wrong with the Emerald Necklace.
Ed. note: Interesting article, but it sounds like she doesn't know anything about the Muddy River reclamation project and didn't spend any time south of Rte. 9.
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Good thing the folks at the Emerald Necklace Conservancy...
... were a little bit more tolerant (even enthused) about her project. Did you actually bother reading the linked article?
When you've got a hot take sizzling like a fajita, you don't have time for readin', you just run to the table and drop that sucker off.
I think her comments are pretty much dead on.
They are but...
she does seem to focus on the very worst spots--Charlesgate, that awful non-crossing at South Huntington/the J'way. It is a neglected jewel and I would love to see a comprehensive restoration and improvement plan but no idea where the $$$ would come from. Parks budget is getting slashed all the time and there's not going to be a cohesive group like Friends of the Public Garden to rehab five miles of parkway.
This behavior isn't limited to Boston
But it is entrenched. Pointing out that something isn't as it should be, needs to be repaired, or simply improved means that you aren't "a team player", "don't know your place", "need to mind own business/lighten up" and are "rude".
Look at some of the responses to complaints submitted through the app formerly known as "citizens connect" for more data on this sort of behavior.
It must be a bit shocking and
It must be a bit shocking and disappointing coming from Europe where people are active and cities are designed for humans instead of cars.
Wow Just Wow
One thing about Jeb Sharp's reporting. Yes, the political city of Boston has under 700,000 people and the political city of Helsinki has just under 600,000, but Greater Boston has close to 4.5 million versus 1.2 million, so our traffic volume is bound to be higher. Jeb Sharp works locally, she could have easily done a better job on this.
Now. I all suggest you watch the film and then ask yourself these questions;
1. I'm wondering how many junkies gave up crack while watching a green thing come out of the weeds near Fire Department Alarm Headquarters?
2. Why couldn't our green friend just walked 200 feet to the right and crossed Route 9 at the intersection of Huntington and South Huntington? 200 feet to the right, rather than have traffic backed up all the way to the Pru with another traffic light is much better urban planning.
3. Did she do any research and realize that someone is trying to fix up the Duck House? http://fenwaycivic.org/bulletin-board/duck-house/
Glad to see Harvard ( As In Harvard GSD and Harvard's media arm WGBH, 1/2 owner of The World) keeps throwing criticism at us locals. It is easy to say you should do this and you should do that when you have $35B in the bank and when one of your students has a floor 30% tax rate to work with in a municipal budget.
This was more about impressions of how things are.
Yes, it's really Boston against the big, bad world!
Have you ever hiked the whole Emerald Necklace?
I have. Once the whole way, another time about two-thirds. It is indeed hazardous for ordinary folks to cross some of the roads (I went as part of groups -- and had official type people who could stop traffic ).
Honestly if I threw a green sheet over my head I'd find it hard to get anywhere irrespective of the quality of the sidewalks and intersections!
Life Tip: It's easier to get around when you don't have a sheet over you head.
Finland! Sheets On Head! (Non Marimekko Though)
The perfect compliment to your point:
Also - Potential street crossing problems with sheets on your head: 1:01 and 2:17.
I don't think so. Crossing that area at all is super sketchy but you'd have to go wayyyy out of your way to get to an actual crosswalk. There's zero doubt that this crossing needs serious attention.
Why so much anger?
Because someone is criticizing something in Boston
And that someone isn't from Boston.
So it's an outrage.
The criticism is spot on.
If you have a beautiful old house and you are letting certain crucial aspects of it fall into disrepair, it's worth noting the issues.
I appreciate the fresh perspective on it, and agree with everything she says.
I actually reached out to the Emerald Necklace Conservancy about the particular crosswalk for Route 9 by the bridge there, it is an approved capital project, but the bids all came back over budget, so it likely won't get done until 2016. I can't imagine how it would take so long to install a cross walk though, it doesn't seem to the be most labor intensive civil project.
Not just a crosswalk
the Route 9 crossing near the Boston/Brookline border isn't just a crosswalk.
* It's a pedestrian-actuated traffic light, that must be tied into the Huntington light and the Brookline lights so that cars don't back up past the first set of lights due to bad timing
* It's got a median refuge large enough for bicycles to not be in the paths of oncoming cars, which requires moving curbs and repainting lines
* It's ADA compliant, which means that the curbs and ramps on both sides of Rte 9 have to be rebuilt.
The total cost of the project is on the order of (see item 11).
Link fell out
Can't edit, so I'll "repost"
The cost of the Rte 9 crossing is $1,500,000. Some details can be found in item 11 of the Brookline FY16-21 CIP, located .
I expected all of these things you mentioned (understanding it to be much more than the paint) but shoot, I cannot believe that the amount for this work is so high. $1.5MM? How do things get done in the City of (Brookline)?!
Maybe I should take one for the team and get myself a couple parking tickets.
I guess we will only accept your ideas if your last name is Winthrop, Adams, or Hancock
No true modern-day Bostonian would ever consider taking any guff from people with such British-sounding names either.
2nd Law of Thermodynamics.
Why do some parts of the Emerald Necklace appear shabby? Blame the pesky 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. If energy and of course money is not put into the system, i.e., the Emerald Necklace, just as like emeralds, will chip away and disientegrate. Where will the money come from? How about taxes. But that means paying more taxes? Yea. Nothing is free.
How could Boston afford to build the Emerald Necklace when Olmstead was alive but can not afford to maintain it? Perhaps at the time parks were considered to be more than just nice places to visit. Instead they were seen as vital to the quality of life of city living. Today parks are generally valued as pleasant places to have but are just not very important and certainly are not important enough to do more than a nominal amount of maintenance.
But then quality of life does not seem to be considered very important. The noise from boom boom cars, motorcycles and motorized scooters is one example. Tolerating gang bangers is another. Cops who leave residents threatened by telling gang bangers who "snitched" on them is another.
The Emerald Necklace could be in worse shape. It could be whored for development. At least now there is a significant effort to restore parts of it; although that is less about the Emeral Necklace and more about flood control. But it is a good step.
City revenue used to go to
City revenue used to go to physical infrastructure and most welfare was a jobs bank of day labor to maintain that infrastructure. Now the bulk of that money goes to direct transfer payments.
Muddy River restoration stalled?
Apparently Phase 2 of the Muddy River restoration project is on hold for lack of funding. Phase 2 was to include dredging Leverett, Willow, and Wards ponds and the river itself in places and removing invasive phragmites and restoring native vegetation. Does anyone know more about the project's status?
I'm sure that by the
I'm sure that by the standards of the Scandinavian miracle states, the Emerald Necklace is a decrepit mess. But by our local standards, it's still a gem.
Although I live out in Hyde Park, I use parts of the park network all the time (I'm a distance runner). Jaakkola claims she never sees anyone, but I can only imagine that's because she's visiting during typical work hours. On weekends and evenings, you will see a steady stream of walkers, runners, stroller-pushers, and cyclists cruising the paths all along the length, from Franklin Park to the Common.
We should all celebrate the fact that we can easily walk from Boston Common, through the beautiful Public Garden, down the elite Comm Ave Promenade, up through the multi-use park in the Fens, wind our way along the Muddy River, stroll around Jamaica Pond, cross to the Arboretum, and make our way to expansive Franklin Park. Along the way, there are easy pedestrian connections to the Southwest Corridor Park, VFW Parkway, Centre Street, and the American Legion Highway, which in turn can take you to Brook Farm, Millennium Park, Stony Brook Reservation, and Forest Hills Cemetery. It's a vast network of green spaces within Boston, all of which are connected to some degree by protected pedestrian paths. That's an achievement we can be proud of.
That being said, there are definitely areas along the Emerald Necklace that need improvement:
Despite these correctable failings, the original Emerald Necklace and the later spurs I listed above are an amazing resource for the city.
... of the major flaws in our wonderful civic green gem.
The whole bling
The Emerald Necklace should run to Marine Park, as Olmsted intended, but Columbia Road does not meet boulevard status. That's what they say.
Re: no. 7
There will be a DCR meeting on the issues involved in making the Arborway safer for bikes and pedestrians. There was a plan presented last February at a public meeting with community comments after. The new plan addresses the comments. This would be a major change in the area if implemented. The meeting is Oct. 14, 6:30, at the Hunnewell Building of the Arboretum. It involves the area from the Pond to Forest Hills.
This is the third meeting addressing issues in the area. Tomorrow is about pedestrian crossings at Perkins and Parkman Drive. On Oct. 7, there is a meeting on pedestrian crossings on Centre between the VFW Parkway and Murray Circle. Both are also at 6:30 at the Arb.
The presentations will be posted on the DCR website after the meetings so people can comment.
Get involved. I know many here are interested.
The lack of bathrooms is
The lack of bathrooms is vexing, but if we did put them in they'd inevitably, and in short order, turn into disgusting, reeking, hangout spots for the homeless and/or junkies. Not sure what the solution is.
They're Not Just For the Ritz Carlton restrooms.
And perhaps such jobs might help lower the homeless rate.
There used to be staffed
There used to be staffed public restrooms in the Emerald Necklace from the time of their construction until the 1970s. The city ended the staffing then out of budget constraints and within a month there were such major problems with drugs, homeless encampments, arson, and sexual activity that the facilities had to be permanently closed.
Now the drugs and sexual
Now the drugs and sexual activity are just conducted in the Victory Gardens, and homeless encampments dot a number of our public parks. So all the problems still exist, and there's no place to legally pee.
Cities around the country and
Cities around the country and around the world find ways to deal with the potential issues of public toilets. Sometimes it's as simple as charging a nominal fee for entry. Even Wall (who no longer have the contract for Boston street furniture, I believe) had an option for this.
Re #8 -- I don't see how
Re #8 -- I don't see how putting more traffic on the surface, and adding more lanes at the intersections to provide the same traffic throughput with less green light time, will make things better for pedestrians.
Did you ever walk from
Did you ever walk from Jamaica Pond to Franklin Park before the bridge came down? The new design will have protected paths (ie off the street) and signalized crosswalks.
I just love that when
I clicked on this story, Amazon eagerly showed me a bunch of...emerald necklaces. One with a shamrock pendant, the other a turtle.