Esplanade Association Announces Major Expansion of Esplanade 5K Thanks to Presenting Sponsorship of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts

Up to 1,000 racers expected to run the riverfront paths of the Charles River Esplanade in support of the park non-profit

(May 9, 2018) Boston, MA –  Boston’s most popular running route will see even more foot-traffic than usual at the Esplanade 5K Presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (Esplanade5K.com) on Sunday, May 20, 2018 at 9:00am. Hosted by the Esplanade Association, the 100% privately-funded friends group for the Charles River Esplanade, the 5K race (3.1 miles) will be open to runners of all ages and abilities.  Rain or shine, it will start and end at Fiedler Field and will loop along the Esplanade, allowing runners to enjoy both water and garden views set against the iconic backdrop of the Boston skyline.

For the first time, the race will take place on a Sunday morning and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts will serve as the Presenting Sponsor, demonstrating the company’s commitment to helping the people of Massachusetts stay active and healthy.

“We are pleased to partner with the Esplanade Association on the Esplanade 5K,” said Jeff Bellows, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Vice President of Corporate Citizenship and Public Affairs. “This race will bring community members across the Boston metro region together to enjoy a morning of active recreation in a beautiful natural space. Events like the Esplanade 5K bring us one step closer to our vision of a Massachusetts where all residents are empowered to lead healthy lives.”

“We are thrilled to have Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts as the first Presenting Sponsor of the Esplanade 5K,” said Michael Nichols, Executive Director of the Esplanade Association. “They’ve been a long-time partner of the Esplanade Association’s programs, such as our Healthy, Fit & Fun free outdoor fitness classes, and this sponsorship agreement further demonstrates their commitment to improving the health and wellness of all those who enjoy the Esplanade as a premier space for outdoor recreation.”

Blue Cross is committed to helping Massachusetts residents lead healthy lives. In 2017, the company and the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation contributed $10.5 million in financial grants and pro-bono volunteer service to over 500 nonprofit organizations across the Commonwealth. The company believes in addressing the inter-connectedness of healthy eating, active lifestyles, and positive environments, in order to influence behavior change and make a lasting impact.

The Esplanade Association executes a number of other projects and programs for the Esplanade, including planting and maintaining 12 ornamental garden beds, caring for over 1,700 park trees, bringing nearly 2,000 volunteers to the Esplanade each summer, Healthy, Fit & Fun free fitness programming throughout the summer, and the Children in the Park program which brings children from across the Greater Boston area to the Esplanade to enjoy active play. For the first time in 2018, the Esplanade Association has partnered with local non-profits to bring a series of free musical performances to the Esplanade.

Proceeds from the race will support the Esplanade Association’s work to revitalize and enhance the Esplanade, preserve its natural green space, and build community in the park. All participants will receive a t-shirt, a bib with timing chip and official race results, and be eligible to win prizes across various age brackets. Up to a thousand runners are anticipated. Immediately following the race, the official race After Party will be held at the Liberty Hotel.

The Esplanade 5K would not be possible without the support of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (Presenting Sponsor), Wayfair (Sponsor), the Dashing Whippets (Supporter), Polar Beverages (Water Station Sponsor) and the Liberty Hotel (After Party Sponsor).

About Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (bluecrossma.com) is a community-focused, tax-paying, not-for-profit health plan headquartered in Boston. We’re the trusted health plan for more than 25,000 Massachusetts employers, and are committed to working with others in a spirit of shared responsibility to make quality health care affordable. Consistent with our corporate promise to always put our 2.8 million members first, we’re rated among the nation’s best health plans for member satisfaction and quality. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

About the Esplanade Association

The Esplanade Association (esplanadeassociation.org) is a 100% privately-funded nonprofit organization that works to revitalize and enhance the Charles River Esplanade, sustain the natural green space, and build community by providing educational, cultural, and recreational programs for everyone. Working in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Esplanade Association is dedicated to improving the experiences of the millions of visitors who enjoy Boston’s iconic riverside park.

For further information: Kelsey Pramik, Marketing & Events Manager, Esplanade Association, 617-532-0942, kpramik@esplanade.org

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Comment Letter Re: I-90 Beacon Yards DEIR

February 9, 2018

Secretary Matthew A. Beaton

Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs

Att: MEPA Office, Alexander Strysky, EEA #15278

100 Cambridge Street, Suite 900

Boston, MA 02114

Via e-mail:

Sec. Matthew Beaton (Matthew.Beaton@state.ma.us)

Alex Strysky (Alexander.Strysky@state.ma.us)

Re: I-90 Beacon Yards DEIR

EEA # 15278

Dear Secretary Beaton,

The Esplanade Association is a privately-funded nonprofit organization that works in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) as a steward for the historic Charles River Esplanade park, and is dedicated to enhancing the experiences of the more than 3 million visitors who enjoy the park on an annual basis.

We write today regarding the I-90 Allston Interchange Improvement Project and MEPA’s review of this major project’s likelihood to influence public parks and pathways adjacent to the proposed development.

We were pleased that MassDOT and its design team, working with a task force of interested stakeholders, prioritized a number of guiding concepts for the replacement of the Allston Interchange including “Enhanced bicycle and pedestrian connectivity among the different parts of Allston touched by the project area and the Charles River.” We agree that this should be a key element of the overall project, and should reflect both (1) connectivity to the Esplanade along with (2) improvements to riverfront pathways up-and-down the Charles River Basin.

The Esplanade Association has been deeply engaged in promoting enhanced multi-modal transit options within the park that prioritizes safety and builds connectivity from outside the Esplanade. Our work has included considering how the separation of pedestrian and bicycle traffic might promote safer commuting conditions and wider usage. Our goal is to minimize conflict and ensure that bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure meets the growing demand on the pathway system. The I-90 Allston Interchange Improvement Project offers an opportunity to provide additional safe and continuous access from the Interchange project site and along the Charles River (on the Dr. Paul Dudley White Bike Path) immediately west of the Esplanade. Our experience has shown that to do this safely and sustainably, more thought should be given to the space provided for pathway construction and conflicting uses shall be separated to promote safe commuting and recreational uses.

DCR and MassDOT commissioned a Pedestrian and Bicycle Connectivity Study for the Charles River Basin – completed by Halvorson Design Partnership and Alta Planning + Design in 2014 – that confirmed the Charles River Basin is a critical nexus in the metropolitan transportation network. The path systems that frame the riverbanks and the bridges are used by as many as 10,000 cyclists, pedestrians and runners an hour. As projects recommended in the study are completed by the state and adjacent municipalities to improve access, multi-modal traffic and park visitorship will grow. The I-90 Interchange Project provides a monumental opportunity to further the earlier study’s conclusions by seamlessly linking this new neighborhood in Allston to the existing and improving riverfront transit network on the Esplanade.

We recognize the past efforts of the state to meet the growing needs of walkers and cyclists in the Charles River Basin area, and appreciate your consideration in ensuring the pathways included in I-90 Allston Interchange Improvement Project prioritize connectivity, usability and safety. We encourage you to require the improvement of the existing pathway infrastructure along the Charles River – and connectivity to and from the Esplanade – as part and parcel of the I-90 Allston Interchange Improvement Project.

Sincerely,

Michael Nichols

Executive Director

Esplanade Association

cc: Commissioner Leo Roy, DCR

ENJOY THE ESPLANADE IN WINTER!

Considering Boston’s frigid winter days, it may be tempting to stay inside until the snow starts to melt. Do so, and you’ll miss seeing the Esplanade during a special time of year. There’s something especially beautiful about the fields and gardens draped in snow, and ice glittering on the rocks at the banks of the lagoons. Bundle up and get outside!

Here are ten ways you can enjoy the Esplanade in winter:

  1. SNOWSHOE Snowshoe along the shoreline, on which EA staff and volunteers remove invasive plants, and replant to prevent erosion.
  2. WALK YOUR DOG Bring your dog to see the newly restored Lotta Fountain. The dog on the top of the statue, a schipperke breed, sports a coat of warm fur.
  3. RIDE YOUR BIKE Ride your bike past the Mass. Ave Bridge to see the Patterned Behavior Art Mural. The bright colors will chase away the winter blues!
  4. RUN OR JOG Run or jog to the Teddy Ebersol Fields, built in a partnership between EA, Hill House, and the DCR in 2006.
  5. PLAY The playgrounds are open year-round for kids to enjoy! The Esplanade Association maintains and repairs both the Stoneman Playground and Esplanade Playspace.
  6. TAKE PHOTOS Take a panoramic photo of the icy Charles River from Fiedler Dock, completed with funding from the Esplanade Association in 2008.
  7. BIRD WATCHING Our native plants and healthy tree canopy attract birds of a variety of species. Birds recently spotted in the Park include Red-Tailed Hawks, Blue Herons, and the Tufted Titmouse.
  8. CROSS COUNTRY SKI 3 ½ miles of linear Park make for great cross-country skiing! Find the upper boundary of the Esplanade at the BU Bridge.
  9. BUILD A SNOWMAN Are your kids still obsessed with Frozen? Build your own Olaf after the next big snowstorm.
  10. HAVE A SNOWBALL FIGHT Call your neighbors, friends, and family, and find an open patch of space on the Esplanade for a snowball fight. You’ll warm up while dodging the snow.

Boston’s Esplanade Association Announces Immediate Rule Changes to Ban Philadelphia-Themed Products from the Esplanade

Boston’s Esplanade Association Announces Immediate Rule Changes to Ban Philadelphia-Themed Products from the Esplanade

New rules in effect until Duck Boats return to Boston’s streets after Superbowl LII

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (JANUARY 23, 2017) – BOSTON, MA – The Esplanade Association (esplanadeassociation.org), nonprofit stewards of the 64-acre Charles River Esplanade in Boston, has enacted the following rule changes regarding the Park, effective until Monday, February 5, 2018. The following items are now forbidden anywhere in the 3.5-mile stretch from the Museum of Science to the Boston University Bridge:

  • Any Philadelphia sports apparel (Flyers, Phillies, 76ers, and Eagles included)
  • Eagles (yes, even bald eagles)
  • Cheesesteak sandwiches
  • Cracked copper bells
  • Soft Pretzels
  • Philadelphia brand Cream Cheese (other brands of cream cheese permitted)
  • Anything in the shade “Midnight Green”
  • Mummers
  • Will Smith and Sylvester Stallone
  • Crisco

“We realized that appearing in a Super Bowl for only the third time – and first time since losing to the Patriots in 2005 – was disorienting for Philadelphia fans and that clarity on acceptable items to bring in our park should be offered,” said Michael Nichols, Executive Director of the Esplanade Association. “Given the Patriots are appearing in their record-extending 10th Super Bowl, we understand this information may not be needed by most park visitors.”

The Esplanade Association thanks the public for their cooperation with these temporary policy changes.

About the Esplanade Association (esplanadeassociation.org)

The Esplanade Association is a 100% privately funded nonprofit organization that works to revitalize and enhance the Charles River Esplanade, sustain the natural green space, and build community by providing educational, cultural, and recreational programs for everyone. Working in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Esplanade Association is dedicated to improving the experiences of the millions of visitors who enjoy Boston’s iconic riverside green space.

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Rare Bald Eagle Seen on Charles River Esplanade

Rare Bald Eagle Seen on Charles River Esplanade

Winged Park Visitor One of Estimated 70,000 Remaining Bald Eagles in North America

BOSTON – On a recent morning, while removing debris after a winter storm, a staff member of the nonprofit Esplanade Association observed and photographed a bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) on the Charles River Esplanade. The eagle flew across a bike path and then settled in a tree near the river.

“After four years with the Esplanade Association, this was the first time I’ve seen an eagle in the Park,” said Renee Portanova, Horticulture Manager at the Esplanade Association. “I was so excited that I immediately stopped our work vehicle to get out and take a photo.”

“The incredibly rare sighting of a bald eagle in downtown Boston is a testament to the natural habitat fostered by the work of the Esplanade Association, including our significant tree care program” said Michael Nichols, Executive Director at the Esplanade Association. “I hope many more visitors to the Esplanade in the coming weeks will have the privilege to see this majestic bird.”

About the Esplanade Association (esplanadeassociation.org)

The Esplanade Association is a 100% privately funded nonprofit organization that works to revitalize and enhance the Charles River Esplanade, sustain the natural green space, and build community by providing educational, cultural, and recreational programs for everyone. Working in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Esplanade Association is dedicated to improving the experiences of the millions of visitors who enjoy Boston’s iconic riverside green space.

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Esplanade 2017 Year in Review

2017 was an amazing year for the Charles River Esplanade, as well the Esplanade Association! With your support, we continued to grow our capacity to revitalize and enhance the Esplanade, preserve natural green space, and build community in the Park.

The numbers speak for themselves:

Esplanade Tree Pruning Work to Start Tuesday, December 19

Have you ever noticed downed tree limbs after a big storm? Strong winds and heavy rain/snow can damage trees, especially those that are older or structurally weak. An essential way to keep trees healthy and safe for Park users is pruning! Through a collaborative process involving the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), the Esplanade Association (EA) annually contracts with local tree care experts to complete pruning work in accordance with the most recent American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards for tree care.

Starting today, until the beginning of January, Bartlett Tree Experts will be in the Park pruning trees between the Union Boat House and Community Boating Inc. This section of the Esplanade contains some of the Park’s oldest trees—those that pose the greatest safety risks from falling limbs. Safety is our priority and pedestrian and bicycle traffic will be redirected away from active work areas as needed.

Bartlett’s work will result in approximately 48% of the Park’s trees being pruned since EA’s Tree Pruning Program began in 2015. EA’s horticulture staff will be supplementing Bartlett’s work by pruning small trees and shrubs this winter. An additional Request for Proposals (RFP) will be issued for pruning work in the early months of 2018, and EA will continue to contract for pruning throughout the Park as our budget allows.

This pruning work is part of EA’s larger strategy to care for Park trees. During Fall 2017, EA hired Kyle Zick Landscape Architecture (KZLA), to develop a comprehensive Tree Care Management and Succession Plan. The plan will build off of an existing tree inventory completed in 2015 to create a multi-year maintenance plan and diversified tree planting plan. Stay tuned for more information – presentation of a draft plan will be announced in early 2018.

Are you interested in supporting tree care? Donate here.

Together with your support, we are ensuring a healthy tree canopy for future generations!

Esplanade Association Names Michael Nichols Executive Director

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (NOVEMBER 9, 2017) – BOSTON, MA – The Board of Directors for the non-profit Esplanade Association (esplanadeassociation.org) today announced the unanimous selection of Michael J. Nichols, of Boston, as the organization’s Executive Director. Nichols, an experienced public servant, attorney, and non-profit professional will begin at the Esplanade Association on November 29.

Nichols joins the Esplanade Association after three years at the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, serving the last 2.5 years as Chief of Staff. At the Greenway, Nichols was responsible for the Conservancy’s community and government affairs, external communications, and advancing strategic priorities. Under his leadership, the Conservancy negotiated a landmark public-private funding agreement, opened Boston’s first fully open-air beer garden, launched the organization’s signature young professional fundraising event, significantly grew earned revenue with innovative activities, and initiated numerous partnerships with other leading Boston institutions for in-park events.

“Michael has proven strategic leadership experience in communicating the value of a public/private partnership to care for – and activate – an urban public park,” said Alexi Conine, Chair of the Esplanade Association Board. “We were impressed with his passion, broad skillset, and record of success in mission-focused government and non-profit work. He will help fulfill the Association’s goal of making the Esplanade an innovative, sustainably-maintained recreational destination and cultural asset. We’re thrilled to have Michael join us.”

The Esplanade Association is the 100% privately funded friends group dedicated to stewardship and improvement of the Charles River Esplanade in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). Since the organization’s founding in 2001, the Esplanade Association has raised over $14 million which has funded new Park amenities, restored Park assets and infrastructure, improved horticultural offerings, initiated new programs and public art, managed a robust volunteer program, and made key improvements to the three-mile stretch of waterfront park.

“The Charles River Esplanade is a jewel of Boston parks and I couldn’t be more excited about being named Executive Director of the Esplanade Association to continue the organization’s transformative work,” said Michael J. Nichols. “The Park already has a fantastic mix of signature events and regular activities in addition to its status as Boston’s most peaceful respite from city life. I look forward to working with the Association’s Board, the dedicated EA staff, our partners at DCR, and the Park’s many stakeholders to revitalize and enhance this signature public space.”

“The Esplanade Association plays a key role in supporting the ongoing maintenance, care, and improvement of the Charles River Esplanade,” offered State Representative Jay Livingstone. “I look forward to working with Michael Nichols to ensure the continued strength of this important public/private partnership.”

Nichols, who received both his bachelor’s degree and law degree from the University of Connecticut, began his career in public service as Chief of Staff and Legal Counsel to two state representatives in the Massachusetts Legislature, specializing in public finance and community development. He later served as Research & Policy Director to the full 13-member Boston City Council.

About the Esplanade Association (esplanadeassociation.org)

The Esplanade Association is a privately funded nonprofit organization that works to revitalize and enhance the Charles River Esplanade, sustain the natural green space, and build community by providing educational, cultural, and recreational programs for everyone. Working in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Esplanade Association is dedicated to improving the experiences of the millions of visitors who enjoy Boston’s iconic riverside green space.

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Meet the High School Interns

THIERNO BAH

About Thierno:

My name is Thierno Bah. I am 18 years old and recently became a high school graduate from Boston Latin Academy this past June. In the fall I will begin my freshman year. I am originally from Atlanta, GA but I have been in Boston for the past 6 years. I enjoy watching and playing sports in my free time. My favorite sports include football and basketball. I owe my fandom to all Atlanta sports team, and some of my favorite athletes include LeBron James, Julio Jones, and Serena Williams

What are you most proud of that you accomplished this summer?

Completing the internship. And I learned more things than I knew before coming in. Like how to use a weed whacker, mover and blower.

What is your favorite type of work you did?

Creating the tree rings and mulching. Mulch contains water and keeps plants healthy. For a tree ring, you dig out grass and weeds, and the place looks better than it had before you started.

What is something new you learned?

What a weed is. It’s not a certain kind of plant. It’s anything that’s where it shouldn’t be.

Has this changed your future career goals?

I want to study communications but I learned that I enjoy nature and being outside and I like learning different things every day.

Anything else to add?

It was a great experience! I had fun!

Special project:

Cataloging garden beds


MICHAEL NGUYEN

About Michael: 

My name is Michael, I’m a student from Boston Latin Academy going into my senior year. Most of my time after school, I volunteer at an afterschool program to help students to give back to the community. My hobbies include binge watching on netflix and hulu or playing games in my free time.

What are you most proud of that you accomplished this summer?

It was a physically demanding summer so I was proud I was able to make it through. I became stronger.

What is your favorite type of work you did?

I liked mulching. It goes around beds and helps the plants.

What is something new you learned?

So many new kinds of plants.

Has this changed your future career goals?

It exposed me to more pathways. Right now I’m very interested in psychology.

Anything else to add?

Thank you for this opportunity!

Special project:

Soil health testing

What’s in that tank?

While out in the park this fall, you may notice our truck with its spray tank filled with a brown liquid and think, “what is that”? Immediately, some of you would assume it’s some sort of chemical. Fear not though, it’s completely safe and organic! The Esplanade Association manages its horticulture program exclusively through organic techniques. One of the tools available in an organic program to address soil fertility and overall plant health is the use of compost tea.

So that begs the question, “what IS compost tea?

The short answer is: A special brew of compost and water and other ingredients. Compost tea helps increase the soil’s biodiversity and improves plant health as a result.

The more detailed explanation is: It’s an brew of beneficial soil microorganisms derived from compost and applied in a liquid form. Natural processes provide all plants the nutrients needed to grow and thrive. These processes include the decomposition of organic material and microorganism interaction with mineral components in the soil. Compost tea is the means to replicate the biology which provide these services in a managed landscape.

As you can imagine, not all plants require the same levels and concentrations of nutrients. To address different plant types, we create different brews: bacterial, fungal, and a combination of the two. The compost used to create the tea must first be ‘healthy’, meaning it contains a diverse biological community. The compost we use is created here on the Esplanade with plant material we remove from the park. This compost can then be ‘activated’ prior to brewing by adding foods such as molasses or kelp. The compost is supplemented with kelp meal, azomite (a mineral), and vermicompost (worm manure). This mixture is then placed in a special bag which attaches to an aerator inside the brewer filled with decanted water (municipal water contains chlorine which kills some of the biologic populations).

The aeration of the tea is critical for the success of the brew. Our staff look to encourage the development of aerobic microorganisms which rely on oxygen rather than anaerobic organisms which could be harmful to the plants. Ingredients are added to the tank and either brewed for 18-36 hours for a bacterial brew or 36-48 hours for a fungal brew.

Once the brew is complete, it’s transferred into our spray tank and must be applied throughout the park within hours of being brewed.  Compost tea has a relatively short shelf life due to it being comprised of living organisms which require both food and a constant source of oxygen.

Now when you see the truck out in the park with brown liquid in the tank, you’ll know it’s compost tea, and maybe impress a fellow curious park-goer with this new knowledge!

Written by Organic Land Care Horticulturist Eric DiTommaso

Eric DiTommaso spraying compost tea in the park.