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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.



A BOSTON GLOBE EDITORIAL

The public's greenway

7/11/2002

A DRAFT of legislation to create the Massachusetts Millennium Greenway Trust - an agency to design, build, and manage the parks and buildings that will replace the elevated Central Artery - illustrates why the lawmaking process should have been prompter and more public.

While the draft contains many elements of a strong proposal, it leaves unanswered major questions, such as the fate of designer selection contests being conducted by the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority for most of the key parcels. Overall, the draft tilts too far toward the private half of the public-private partnership that is the backbone of the proposal, and the public part tilts too far in favor of the state.

These tilts can be straightened, but time is short. State and city leaders last month informally adopted a deadline of yesterday for the release of the legislation; now they are saying there will be an announcement tomorrow, so informed debate won't begin until next week. Only two days' difference, but less than three weeks are left in the legislative session.

The draft calls for a seven-member trust to run virtually all aspects of the milelong corridor, which has already been named the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Five members would be appointed by the governor and only two by the mayor. One of the gubernatorial appointments would have to come from nominees submitted by the House speaker; another from the Senate president's list; and a third with a ''cultural, historical, educational, or environmental'' affiliation in Boston. One of the mayor's appointees would be a member of the Artery Business Committee. The mayor could pick the chairman, with the governor having a veto.

Any way you look at it, the state role would predominate. The city should have a stronger voice on a project that will do much to shape the heart of its downtown for generations to come.

The draft legislation would create a new Artery Betterment District extending a quarter-mile from the corridor. Businesses within the district would be assessed enough to assure high-quality operation and maintenance - as much as $6 million a year.

These businesses will benefit enormously from the greenway (they have also suffered during its construction), and it is proper for them to contribute. But on grounds of equity and principle, they should not pay the full freight. The draft also contains vague references to the trust possibly leasing parcels.

These are public spaces. Private contributions will be welcome, and some will be needed. But the public should claim this marvelous greenway as its own and be willing to pay for one of the greatest public amenity ever planned in Boston.




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