Greenway gets $2 million bailout to prevent “blight”
Seeking to prevent blight in downtown Boston, an economic development agency is plugging a $2 million hole in the budget of a private group about to take over management of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway from the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority.
Photo of Greenway
fountain by Frank Curran.
The Massachusetts Development Finance Agency, a quasi-public agency that normally provides loans for economic development and job creation, approved a $2 million grant to cover short-term operating expenses of the Greenway Conservancy, a private group created to manage the Big Dig park that snakes through the heart of Boston.
The Conservancy had expected to receive $2 million this year from the state and up to $5.5 million next year, but, as CW Unbound reported earlier this week, state officials now say only $1.5 million will be available next year because of the downturn in the economy. The shortfall meant the Conservancy would take over maintenance and operation of the Greenway without enough money to do the job. The Conservancy relies on a mixture of private donations and public grants for funding.
Hookailo said the agency generally prefers to issue loans and usually focuses on economic development projects, but the Conservancy qualified for funding because the money would be used, in part, "to prevent and ameliorate blight."
Nancy Brennan, executive director of the Conservancy, confirmed the Mass Development grant but declined to discuss her long-term funding problem. "We have a realistic and doable short-term plan," she said.An internal memo generated by MassDevelopment says the grant to the Conservancy was consistent with its mission because the money would be used to improve "the value of properties adjacent or proximate to the Greenway, thereby providing increased tax revenue to the city of Boston." The memo also said the grant will "help to prevent blight and economic distress in the form of the deterioration of the Greenway as it presently exists to substandard open space with an uncertain future."
In its summer issue, CommonWealth magazine reported that the annual tab for upkeep of the Greenway was expected to be $3.2 million, which would make it one of the most expensive parks in the nation to maintain. The total budget of the Greenway Conservancy was forecasted at $8.6 million, with half coming from the state. If less state money is available, the Conservancy will presumably have to either raise more money from private donors or slash its spending.