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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.


Greenway progress


AFTER YEARS of indecision on Beacon Hill and months of negotiation, Mayor Thomas Menino of Boston and Matthew Amorello, the chairman of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, have decided on a joint process for approving the design of the Rose Kennedy Greenway, according to Amorello.

No long-term plan for management and maintenance is included, and the milelong string of parks scheduled to replace the elevated Central Artery still badly needs a client organization. Legislation to create a new entity for that purpose failed this year.

Still, by formalizing what has been a largely cooperative relationshiop between the Turnpike Authority and the city, the letter of agreement could give designers and others working on the project greater confidence that the greenway will fulfill its promise as one of the signature spaces in the heart of Boston. It is an important step forward.

Under the draft agreement, a six-person Central Corridor Parks Joint Coordination Committee - with three members each appointed by Menino and Amorello - would make major design decisions. Two of the city appointees would likely come from the Boston Redevelopment Authority and one from the city Parks Department, giving the project some of the city-building expertise that is not the primary function of the Turnpike, a road-building agency.

In addition, the agreement calls for the creation of an informal advisory board of design professionals that would encourage bold and successful design work.

While a few details remain to be ironed out, Amorello said he hoped the agreement could be signed this week. It has been eagerly anticipated, since the city needs a more clearly defined role. Fred Yalouris, director of architecture and urban design for the Turnpike Authority, said the agreement makes sense "because they're city parks - even if we own them and we build them."

Implementation is crucial. As Anne Fanton, the executive director of the Central Artery Environmental Oversight Committee, said, committees that don't have an ultimate decision maker can be difficult, but "they work if the people involved want them to work."

The new committee should make sure the design work is not constrained by an artificially low budget. The Turnpike Authority has allocated $31 million for design and construction of all the parks, but there should be flexibility for bold designs that might deserve, and attract, additional funding. Amorello insists that excellence is the ultimate goal.

The agreement is not a solution in itself but creates a team that is now free to pursue solutions to one of the most complicated and exciting opportunities facing Boston.

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