'); //--> Back to Boston.com homepage Arts | Entertainment Boston Globe Online Cars.com BostonWorks Real Estate Boston.com Sports digitalMass Travel Click for the Boston Globe Online Click for the Boston.com homepage
Beyond The Big Dig
About this project

What happens to the ribbon of land being created by the depression of the Central Artery may be the most important development decision to face Boston in a generation.


A five-week plan


YESTERDAY'S State House hearing on the creation of the Rose Kennedy Greenway was a testament to the value of public debate. It produced real progress and clarified some issues still needing resolution.

Agreement was nearly unanimous that the Legislature should create a new trust to manage the Greenway -- the milelong corridor, mostly parks, to be revealed when the Central Artery comes down.

But the state's political leadership got the message that the legislation cannot be passed at the last minute and without public scrutiny as the Legislature ends its session July 31. Acting Governor Jane Swift, House Speaker Thomas Finneran, Boston Redevelopment Authority Director Mark Maloney, and the two chairmen of the Legislature's Transportation Committee, Senator Robert Havern and Representative Joseph Sullivan, all said that a deadline of July 10 for making the draft legislation public -- as suggested by Representative Paul Demakis -- is a reasonable goal.

It is not optimal, but it is the best timetable available. Three weeks in July does not allow the full review this important legislation deserves. But further delay would cause even greater problems. Already the designer selection process for most of the key parcels is being moved forward by the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority. Its chairman, Matthew Amorello, said yesterday that he will declare a design hiatus until July 31, but the new trust should be taking over this work as soon as possible.

Major substantive differences can be brought into focus only by a specific proposal.

For instance, should the trust board have five members or seven or more? Should legislative leaders be able to recommend members of an executive agency? Will Boston have a sufficient voice in the trust if the mayor has only one appointee out of five, or two out of seven, as some suggest?

There may be other approaches. Perhaps the BRA and Boston's Parks and Recreation Department could be designated for roles in the design and maintenance of the corridor.

Equally important is the financing. Businesses near the artery are willing to pay part of the operations and maintenance costs, but how much is fair? The Turnpike Authority should certainly contribute significantly, because it will be saddled with these costs if no trust is created. Amorello and board member Christy Mihos, at least, accept this logic, but it is time to agree on an amount that would give a healthy start to an endowment to assure quality maintenance.

Yesterday's hearing was a start. Now, five weeks of intensive work can produce a first-class -- a world-class -- result.

Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company
Advertise | Contact us | Privacy policy