By Margaret Pokorny
The Friends of the Public Garden and the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay (NABB) are reaching out to their members to learn if the removal of the fence on the Charlesgate block is supported by the neighborhood.
So far the answer is overwhelmingly yes! Margaret Pokorny, chairman of the Commonwealth Avenue Mall Committee, a joint committee of Friends of the Public Garden and NABB, is hoping to meet with Boston Parks Department Commissioner Christopher Cook to show him all the e-mails and letters received from the Charlesgate block abutters and supporters of the stewardship of Commonwealth Avenue Mall.
Friends of the Public Garden and NABB have worked together to restore the Charlesgate block of the Commonwealth Avenue Mall. Over the past three years the work has included: extensive work on the trees; excavation of entire block to correct the soil composition and the drainage; replacing and upgrading the irrigation system; and turf restoration.
Since the initial work we have committed to do extra ordinary maintenance in this block to ensure the turf and the trees remain healthy and strong. The Friends have invested $130,000 over three years in this block for turf restoration, tree care and the Leif Eriksson sculpture restoration. This huge investment of time and money has improved and maintained the beauty of this block of the Mall.
Unfortunately, this considerable investment is being destroyed by the use of this block as an off-leash dog park. Because this block is fenced it is an inviting spot for off-leash dog activity, which is illegal in this park. This usage has grown to such an extent in the past year that the majority of the investment in improvements is being wasted because we simply can’t get ahead of the damage that is being done. While we welcome dogs and dog walkers using the park properly, the current fencing exacerbates unsuitable use as an off-leash dog area. In addition, this off-leash behavior has made it difficult, if not impossible for other people to feel welcome and safe in this area of the park.
These fences are not historic; they were installed in the 1980s. Removal would bring the Charlesgate block into aesthetic harmony with the rest of the mall where the fences are on the cross streets only. About 15 years ago, then Commissioner Justine Liff removed a similar fence around the Hereford block because of the exact same problem. If you look at the Hereford block today, you can see the difference.
Charlesgate can look like the Hereford block, but only if the fence is removed: the Friends of the Public Garden has recommended to Commissioner Cook that this fence be removed; and the NABB board of directors voted at a recent meeting to support this recommendation.
Commissioner Cook wants to hear the removal of the fence is supported by the neighborhood. We have promised we will do our best to “take the temperature” of the abutters and supporters of the stewardship of the mall.
Give us your feedback. A response of a simple “YES” or “NO” to removal of the fence would be welcome, additional comments would be appreciated. Respond to the Friends at [email protected] or to Margaret Pokorny’s e-mail at [email protected].