By Dan Murphy
At the group’s 15th annual meeting at Hampshire House on Monday, April 11, representatives from the Esplanade Association outlined their major goals for 2016, including the restoration of the historic Lotta Fountain and the launch of the park’s “wayfinding system.”
Tani Marinovich, executive director of the Esplanade Association, said work on the 6-foot, granite fountain constructed in 1939 in the name of philanthropist Lotta Crabtree is scheduled to begin in July for expected completion in the fall.
Marinovich said the wayfinding system will create a “complete family of signs in the park” to help visitors navigate and promote park safety, beginning with the installation of the first sign at the base of the Arthur Fiedler Footbridge. The program, launched in partnership with the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), is based on the findings from Esplanade 2020 –a long-term vision for the park spearheaded by the Esplanade Association.
As part of the tree inventory program, Marinovich said 300 trees have been identified and prioritized to receive “much-needed structural and crown-pruning” this spring. She added that the park’s trees have an estimated total value of $9 million.
Also, the Esplanade Association is partnering with DCR and the Charles River Watershed Association this year to launch a program for invasive-plant management on the waterfront.
Upcoming events sponsored by the Esplanade Association include the Esplanade 5K footrace on June 2, with proceeds going to support the Lotta Fountain restoration, and the Moondance Gala on July 24, which has set the unprecedented goal of raising $1 million for the organization, Marinovich said.
Margo Newman, chair of the Esplanade Association board of directors, welcomed new directors Alexi Conine, Jodi Gill and Joan Patton, as well as returning board members Fritz Casselman, Frank Panayotou, Tony Pangaro, Margaret Pokorny and Alicia Towns Franken.
Meanwhile, guest speaker and newly appointed DCR Commissioner Leo Roy cited the deteriorating state of Lee Memorial Pool on the Esplanade as a prime example of the $1.5 million “deferred maintenance problem” that the Commonwealth now faces.
“The Lee Pool is a disgrace,” Roy said. “It’s been closed for 15 years, and takes up a vital piece of infrastructure overall.”
Roy also described the condition of the adjacent State Police barracks as “deplorable” and said he is in “active communication” with state officials regarding the pressing need for a new facility.
Unlike any other state agency, Roy said DCR is tasked with raising 23 percent of its operating costs for Fiscal ’17, making the continuing success of the Commonwealth’s parks even more dependent on the generosity of groups like the Esplanade Association.
“In 15 years, you really have become a model for other partner organizations,” Roy told the standing-room crowd. “We’re in this together.”