The Esplanade Association (TEA) outlined its noteworthy achievements of fiscal ’13, recapping a fruitful business year that included a merger with another non-profit dedicated to enhancing park life, the completion of planning for the revitalization of the Charles Eliot Memorial and the establishment of the park’s first composting program.
In its recently published Report to the Community, TEA announced its recent union with the Friends of the Esplanade Playspace, a group of local parents and other benefactors that used private donations to build a 10,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art playground near the Hatch Shell. Besides Tani Marinovich, a founding member of the Friends group who now serves as TEA director of development, three additional Friends board members have joined the other group’s board, and will take part in the newly established Family Council to provide guidance on issues in the park of interest to families.
Margo Levine Newman, TEA board chair and acting executive director, said at the group’s annual meeting at Hampshire House last Tuesday, the addition of 300 Friends would help strengthen ties with young families and provide “the next generation of leadership for the program.”
In fiscal ’13, TEA also raised $380,000 to complete planning and design phases for the restoration of the Eliot Memorial plaza, located near the Community Boating docks. The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is expected to break ground on the project this month, with completion slated for the fall.
“It will be a great new gathering spot, a revitalized gathering spot,” Newman of the Eliot Memorial.
At the Miriam and Sidney Stoneman Playground, located on the Dudley Bike Path along the Charles River, TEA commissioned Cambridge sculptor Mitch Ryerson to transform a dead oak tree into a work of public art that preserved the trunk while adorning it with other wood adornments, including a canopy, birds and a window with a river.
TEA is also moving forward with implementing Esplanade 2020 – the long-term vision for the park that the group unveiled in February of 2012 – and developing “action plans” for certain sites, beginning with the Hatch Shell area. As a direct extension of this vision, TEA and DCR have partnered to establish the Landscape Advisory Committee, which recommends and prioritizes rehabilitation projects, maintenance needs and other improvements to the future of the Esplanade’s landscape.
Also, TEA hired its first full-time horticulturist in 2012 to focus on beautifying and improving plant life at the park, as well as to supervise a team of 2,000 volunteers who provide maintenance help on the grounds. This spring, the group added a seasonal horticulturist to provide more support on the Esplanade.
As part of its move towards a more sustainable approach to land care, TEA staff established the park’s first composting program last year, collecting and composting vegetable scarps from the office, volunteers and the Women’s Lunch Place, a Newbury Street-based daytime-shelter for homeless and poor women.
“The compost is then used in the landscape to amend soil and to mulch beds throughout the park,” according to the Report to the Community. “This spring, [TEA] is starting a compost tea program to further improve the health of the park’s trees, turf, plants and soil.”