Mayor Walsh thanks The Trustees for community work in Boston, at inaugural One Waterfront gala

The Trustees of Reservations (The Trustees) President and CEO Barbara Erickson officially introduced the One Waterfront Initiative at a gala held at the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion on Thursday, September 13, 2018.

(From left to right: Trustees Board of Directors Chairman Peter Coffin; Youth Conservation Corps members Amanda Cinelli, Gabriela Cartagena, and Celine Romero-Garcia; Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh; and Trustees President and CEO Barbara Erickson)

After Erickson’s opening remarks, special guest Mayor Martin Walsh spoke and thanked The Trustees for ongoing work with city youth and community gardens, while acknowledging the critical need for increased resilience along the waterfront, a driving force behind the One Waterfront Initiative. The new Initiative is working to create world-class, accessible, and resilient parks along Boston’s vulnerable coastline.  

 “None of this work would be possible without leadership and vision from our public leaders and the Trustees is honored to be a partner with the City of Boston and other agencies to realize a visionary future for our waterfront,” said Erickson. “This initiative is off to a great start working with all of you. The Trustees, right now, are pursuing opportunities in East Boston and South Boston that we hope can show proof of concept within the next five years. Imagine 1 or 2 new parks in this decade.” 

For The Trustees, this city-based Initiative is a homecoming. The organization was founded in 1891 by Charles Eliot, out of a desire to benefit the public health of City residents by preserving and caring for natural and cultural resources in perpetuity. That mission of conservation took The Trustees to properties all over the state before returning to an active city involvement in the early 2000s with the affiliation of the Boston Natural Areas Network (BNAN) in 2008, and then merger in 2014.  

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh makes remarks at the One Waterfront Gala (September 13, 2018 / Blue Hills Bank Pavilion, Boston)

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh makes remarks at the One Waterfront Gala (September 13, 2018 / Blue Hills Bank Pavilion, Boston)

Today The Trustees operates a statewide central office in the City, owns and manages 56 community gardens totaling 15 acres across eight Boston neighborhoods, manages the KITCHEN at the Boston Public Market as a founding partner, and operates a Mobile Farmers Market and Seaport CSA serving city residents and commuters in addition to running a Youth Conservation Corps program in East Boston. 

Now, we are excited to build upon our legacy and work with a dynamic network of non-profits also dedicated to preserving and bolstering the resilience of our dwindling public space along the harbor. Not only has development skyrocketed, but we also must consider the very real threat of climate change, a factor Mayor Walsh referred to as “a historic obligation…[and] a historic opportunity.”  

Sea level rise, along with more severe and frequent storms, means that flooding along our shorelines, and in many of our vulnerable communities, will more and more become a part of everyday life, endangering homes, infrastructure and communities. But all hope is not lost. With green solutions, thoughtful planning, and stewardship, we can bolster our resilience in a way that also responds to community needs and attracts visitors from around the world to a world-class destination similar in scale and impact to projects such as the High Line in New York City and Millennium Park in Chicago.

For The Trustees, waterfront properties are not a new challenge. We are proud to be the largest private manager of coastline in the state, with a stunning 125 miles under our care.  For over a century, we have been committed to protecting the coast for everyone and the city parks we build will be a continuation and expansion of this commitment to current and future generations. 

“We are working with renowned landscape architects that create spaces that knocks people’s socks off,” said Erickson at the gala. “Parks, when done well, represent the new urban life. Bringing new design, multi-cultural, and fully programmed.  Our charge is hip, world-class public spaces in our harbor that represent a new Boston. We must build open spaces that beckon children and adults alike to play, ponder, and explore. We will leverage great advancements in green infrastructure that bolster our resilience to a changing climate. We know through our decades long work here in the city and outside, that quality parks and programming connect neighborhoods, increase outdoor recreation, and instill civic pride. We will build spaces that bring our diverse, amazing Boston community together.” 

With several potential park locations under careful consideration, The Trustees will work closely with communities as the One Waterfront Initiative progresses, to ensure that the project responds to residents’ needs while prioritizing equity, a value Mayor Walsh emphasized in remarks to the students, Trustees, donors, volunteers, business leaders, and philanthropists gathered at Thursday’s gala.  

 “This is what resilience means to me,” said Mayor Walsh. “It’s not just about stopping floods, it’s who we protect and how we protect them. It’s not just about creating parks that are delightful, it’s who can access that space and who feels welcome there. Resilience is a social as well as a physical issue and a waterfront is a public good that belongs to all.” 

For more information about the One Waterfront Initiative, watch this space. We will continue to provide updates as our work progresses.