Historic wall close to restored

November 17, 2006
By

LOU MANCINELLI


Gazette Photo by Lou Mancinelli
Funding has almost been secured for the restoration of a tattered historic wall on Pond Street along the Jamaicaway between Dunster and Orchard streets.

PONDSIDE—Two-thirds of the necessary funding needed for the restoration of a withering historic wall plagued with graffiti and chunks of the wall lying on the ground has been raised.

The wall is located at the end of Dunster Street, along Pond Street across from the Jamaica Pond, at the transition between Arborway and Jamaicaway. It dates back to the late 1800s, according to Sarah Freeman of the Arborway Coalition. The group has until Dec. 1 to secure the remaining $5,000.

“There is no historic life or fountains and benches along the Arborway,” she said. “There aren’t many things that make you feel the Arborway is still part of the Emerald Necklace. This wall is one of the remaining character-defining pieces of this section. We should take care of our few historic resources.”

The project, which, according to a Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) engineer’s estimate, will cost $30,000, is half-way funded by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs (EOEA), Freeman said.


Each year the EOEA’s Office of Public Private Partnerships (OPPP) offers to match private or non-state capital funds for improvements to EOEA’s parks, open spaces and facilities in all EOEA departments, as long as they are on DCR property.

“Our mission is to develop new models of stewardship in order to protect and sustain our natural, cultural, historical and recreational public resources for future generations,” says its web site.

The EOEA receives applications for projects but only has a limited amount of resources, Freeman said. She said last year the Arborway Coalition submitted an application but was not funded.

“The OPPP selects groups that are collaborative and work in the community, that are working on project and restoration efforts on areas suffering from deferred maintenance, as well as groups that have worked on projects in the past,” said Joe Ferson, spokesperson for the EOEA.

This year, however, the application was accepted, and EOEA declared it would match funds generated by parties interested in saving the wall.

“The OPPP is thrilled to be working with the Arborway group,” said OPPP Director Betsy ShureGross. “They’re a leadership organization building on Frederick Law Olmsted’s vision of the Arborway.”

The money can come from any source, as long as it is not the state. This means individuals, businesses, neighborhood organizations or even the federal government can choose to support the project.

The Arborway Coalition, Jamaica Pond Project, Jamaica Pond Association (JPA), Emerald Necklace Conservancy and the Jamaica Hills Association are five larger organizations that have contributed to the private fund. Over $10,000 has been raised, according to Freeman.

Details of the wall’s historical significance are not 100 percent clear, Freeman said.

“The general motivator for restoration is Frederick Law Olmsted’s vision to make a whole Boston parks system with continuous green space from downtown to Franklin Park,” she said.

In the late 1800s there were different pathway systems. Over the years carriage paths turned into roadways, and bridals paths for walking horses and walkways turned into bike paths. However, the paths stop at Jamaica Pond, Freeman said.

“The parks have a lot of maintenance need,” she said. “The parks look like they have been there forever, but it is a big job. We know the DCR has more serious problems. This is one very small way to get a head start on improving them.”

“The wall is definitely restorable at a relatively low cost now,” said Sam Sherwood, also of the Arborway Coalition. “If we let if go it could turn into rubble like another Pinebank.”

Pinebank is a historic mansion in JP that dates back to the 1870s. In the past the mansion had city uses, but was abandoned in the 1970s. Since then the building has suffered fires and decay and the Boston Parks and Recreation Department has slated the mansion for demolition.

“I think we have an opportunity here,” said JPA chair John Iappini.

“We have an opportunity here to restore and stabilize the wall and give future generations the gift to physically see and feel a part of their heritage,” said Sherwood. “This is a very visible wall. It’s good not for just JP but for people passing by as well.”

To help or for information about how to get involved in restoring the wall, contact Freeman, 22 Arborway, Jamaica Plain, 02130 or at 276-5093.

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