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On the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, one does not simply replace a bench

The Boston Sun details a recent hearing of the Boston Landmarks Commission on a proposal to replace a bench dedicated to Civil War veterans between Arlington and Berkeley streets on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall.

The Friends of the Public Garden, which helps oversee the Mall, wants to replace the worn out bench with a more durable granite version - and had both a donor and a craftsperson ready to go. But since the Mall is a designated landmark, any work requires the commission's approval.

According to the Sun, one commissioner raised the issue of whether the bench, built for a different time, should be replicated so closely - why not come up with a design more appropriate for these times? The Friends said they decided to follow the original design for "historic purposes." But the new design was missing the original bench's curve "between the legs and under the seat that is on the existing bench," and another commissioner said that if the Friends were going to get all historic and follow the original design, they should go all in and include that curve.

In the end, the commission gave its approval - with the proviso that the curve be added, that the inside of the arm rest get more detailing and that one or both of the bench's bases be extended to improve accessibility for the mobility impaired.


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Be careful what you wish for. Historically anything nice in Boston ends up with graffiti, spilled sticky drinks, and human waste on it.

Voting closed 6

" the donor decided that the proposed design was a good one"

No offense to the donor or the Friends of the Public Garden, but unless the donor is a World ClassTM architect, furniture or urban landscape designer of high esteem and reputation, they are not the deciders for what is proper to be installed at a designated landmark and the Friends should've come up with a better excuse other than the one provided.

Voting closed 9

Don't ever cross The Friends Of The Public Garden. You'll could wake up like that Senator in the Godfather II one day.

There is an attitude from them which I have seen in the past protective of "their" turf that would make most mafioso blush with jealousy.

Voting closed 15

No, I'm from here, lived and worked in the Back Bay for many years and unlike yourself I'm still here in Boston and am well aware of the powers wielded by the neighborhood groups, as it should be as they're the folks who've decided to invest their time in fostering a community that works toward a future common good instead of making for the suburbs and sniping from afar. And while I make fun of them I also respect their efforts and give my support when needed.

Also, I'm old enough to remember what it was like replying to an innocuous UHub posting in jest just for the fun of it without having someone like yourself mansplain their limited understanding of the wider world as if it were fact, when their misuse of simple grammar and poorly copied metaphors betrays the contrary.

Voting closed 8

What was it about that post that was "mansplaining?"

Voting closed 8

I understand the reasons for historic preservation, etc. But this is one more example of how exhausting it can be to get something done.

Rather than being annoyed, I'm just grateful that people (both volunteer and paid staff) do work for "The Friends" and other city agencies, and are patient enough to stick with the process and get things done over time.

Boston may no be perfect. But it's pretty.

Voting closed 14

... there are a lot of stakeholders, each with a different set of entirely legitimate interests. Sometimes those interests come into conflict. Broad engagement is on the whole a good thing. A sound public process gets everyone heard and leads to solutions that everyone can live with. Yeah it is messy and takes time, but it leads to good outcomes, generally.

Voting closed 0

I agree with you in principal, but occasionally it leads to a stalemate where nothing gets done. I'm hoping that the Mass Pike project in Allston doesn't suffer that fate with a rebuild of the existing viaduct. That would be an absolute shame as the area has a ton of potential but not if it exists in the shadow of a giant overpass.

Voting closed 4

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I read all the words in the Sun article but I still have no idea what the new proposal and the old bench look like. But there is no picture, not even a link to a picture.

Voting closed 7

Based on description, it sounds like this one...


Voting closed 7