Sen. Sal DiDomenico, together with Rep. Jay Livingstone, has filed new, updated legislation that would allow the state to lease Lee Pool on the Charles River Esplanade for a 30-year term, which would return the long-shuttered two-acre site to public use.
The bill would allow the designated lessee to enter into a long-term agreement with the Esplanade Association, the nonprofit that manages the park in partnership with the Department of Conservation and Recreation, with the stipulation that it only be used for the proposed Esplanade Riverfront Pavilion.
This legislation follows up on a bill that Sen. DiDomenico and Rep. Jay Livingstone filed together last year, which was ultimately unsuccessful.
“Sal and I filed the bill last term, and after back and forth with administration about the language, and with community input, it didn’t pass,” Rep. Livingstone said. “The bill was refilled and has taken into account those conversations, so hopefully, we’ll get it to pass this time.”
Rep. Livingstone added, “We worked incredibly hard with administration and the Esplanade Association to remove the decrepit pool that was being used as maintenance dump and to return it to public use.”
Michael Nichols, executive director of the Esplanade Association, said in a statement: “We’re very grateful for Senator DiDomenico and Representative Livingstone’s continued support of the community’s plans to reimagine the former Lee Pool site into a multi-purpose Esplanade Riverfront Pavilion that would have a transformational impact on the Esplanade for generations to come. The proposed legislation sets important terms to govern the public-private partnership that will be necessary to build, operate, program, and maintain this facility in the decades to come and the Esplanade Association is ready to take the next step with our partners at DCR on behalf of the 21 nonprofit organizations that have signed on to support the project and this legislation.”
In 2017, DCR unveiled schematic designs for the Esplanade Riverfront Pavilion, which was then being planned in tandem with the proposed redevelopment of the State Police barracks on the Lower Basin of the Charles.
DCR’s vision for the proposed pavilion at that time included plans for an occupiable roof garden accessible by terrace steps connecting to the footbridge across Storrow Drive, as well as a roof garden offering seating with riverfront views.
Lee Pool, which sits south of the Police barracks, opened in 1951, but has been closed to the public since the ‘90s.