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Boston parks largely unharmed by Sandy

Posted by Johanna Kaiser  October 30, 2012 05:43 PM

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Some of Boston’s most historic and prominent parks escaped major damage from Hurricane Sandy and are well on the way to being cleared of the debris and broken limbs that did fall during the storm.

“We really got away wonderfully well and relatively unscathed,” said Liz Vizza, executive director of the Friends of the Public Garden, a friends group that helps care for the Boston Public Garden, Boston Common, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall.

Vizza said the parks’ trees lost some branches and limbs, and plenty of leaves, but none were structurally damaged and none were knocked down.

The damage was less extensive than expected and less severe than the damage caused by Hurricane Irene last year, said Vizza, who commended the city for its response.

“I think you won’t even notice in a couple of days,” she said.

One tree did fall in Copley Square, but did not stop the square’s farmers market vendors from setting up shop.

Another tree fell at 44 St. Botolph St. yesterday, blocking the road, according to the Boston Fire Department, which posted photographs of the scene on Twitter.

Overall, 28 incidents of damaged or fallen trees were reported in the Back Bay from Monday through Tuesday morning, according to the city.

The Fenway had the fewest tree problems with just three reports, while Dorchester saw 75, the most of any neighborhood.

A total of 610 incidents of tree emergencies were reported to the city Monday through Tuesday morning. Damaged trees were reported across the state.

Julie Crockford, president of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, said just after noon on Tuesday that she had not had a chance to tour Boston's Emerald Necklace park system herself. However, she said had heard from others who had surveyed some of Hurricane Sandy's aftermath.

She said some downed trees and limbs were reported. Some nearby waterways are at higher than normal levels, but she said she had heard of no reports of flooding around the park system.

"In general, knock on wood, we’re feeling things could have been worse,” Crockford said.

The Emerald Necklace is a six-park system that encompasses more than 1000 acres, or about half of Boston's parkland.

The system is made up of the Arnold Arboretum, Back Bay Fens, Franklin Park, Jamaica Pond, Olmsted Park, and the Riverway.

S.J. Port, a spokeswoman for the state's Department of Conservation and Recreation, said in an e-mail that the agency's properties in Boston, which include the Charles River Esplanade, "did luck out."

"We lost a few trees, but this was not as severe as last year's Halloween snow storm for Boston and surrounding areas," she said.

By Tuesday afternoon, the Boston Parks Department was working to clear roadways and parks, and surveying its properties to determine if any infrastructure was damaged.

The department has also told permitted groups that host athletic activities and games that about 20 park properties were unavailable Tuesday due to storm clean up or saturated athletic fields, Jacquelyn Goddard, the department’s spokeswoman said in an e-mail.

The department will decide Wednesday morning if the fields will be closed to activities for second day.
Town Correspondent Matt Rocheleau contributed to this report. Kaiser can be reached at

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