State Representative Peter Durant (R-Spencer) today filed a bill to eliminate the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy’s control over the Greenway, opting instead for an unpaid management board operating under the Department of Conservation and Recreation.
Durant’s bill defunds the Conservancy, ends its lease to operate the Greenway parks, and transfers control of the Rose Kennedy Greenway from the Mass. Department of Transportation to a division of the Department of Conservation and Recreation. The bill also establishes an uncompensated 11-member Greenway board with members appointed by state and city officials.
After the Boston Herald cast light on disproportionate executive salaries in the Conservancy, largely funded by state tax dollars, Durant began investigating alternatives to operate the greenway park space more efficiently with less reliance on state funding.
“I’ve met with community activists and state officials who manage very successful parks throughout Boston without paid executive staffs and with minimal state funding” Durant said. “These other parks, such as Piers Park in East Boston, are beautiful and well run and I have every expectation that this model of state ownership and maintenance in partnership with unpaid volunteers and activists will work well with the Greenway.”
Durant added that he has heard significant interest from activists in starting a ‘Friends of the Greenway’ group to further support the park. Ultimately, however, this remains a fiscal issue. Authorized by state law, the Greenway Conservancy spent about $2 million in state transportation funds last year, while a bill currently in front of the Transportation Committee proposes to continue public funding for a minimum of five additional years.
The law that conveyed the lease to the Conservancy stipulates that the organization must surrender its $13.5 million endowment if the nonprofit loses its lease. Durant’s bill creates a type of revolving fund with this endowment, and authorizes the board to utilize this ‘Greenway fund’ for park operation in conjunction and with the approval of DCR as well as the department of Administration and Finance.
“This money, along with ongoing revenue generated from operations, can be used for the management of the greenway for a very long time without the need to funnel millions of dollars into the pockets of executives.” Durant said.
“Unfortunately, we have seen this public/private partnership run out of control. It’s time we put an end to it, and achieve the goal of maintaining a beautiful park space while spending the tax payer’s money wisely”.