JP residents honored as park heroes

May 24, 2013
By
(Photo by Marilyn Rodriguez) Sarah Freeman (center) accepts a bicycle as part of her award from Emerald Necklace Conservancy board chair Ben Taylor and President Julie Crockford.

(Photo by Marilyn Rodriguez) Sarah Freeman (center) accepts a bicycle as part of her award from Emerald Necklace Conservancy board chair Ben Taylor and President Julie Crockford.

Three Jamaica Plain residents are among the “Emerald Necklace Parks Champions” honored by the Emerald Necklace Conservancy (ENC) at a May 14 ceremony in the Fenway.

Christine Cooper, Sarah Freeman and John Iappini are being recognized as “unsung heroes” by the ENC, a nonprofit organization.

“These individuals have been in it for the long haul and continue to inspire all of us,” said ENC President Julie Crockford in a press statement. “Their efforts have resulted in some very significant and visible improvements at Jamaica Pond, the Arborway and the Jamaicaway.”

Cooper was among the first volunteers to begin cleaning up Jamaica Pond Park in the 1970s, when it was in rough shape. She was a co-founder of the Jamaica Pond Project, which resurrected the boat house and brought sailing and rowing back to the pond. She also helped to acquire funds for renovating the path around the pond.

Freeman, an ENC board member, is known for leading several successful improvement efforts to the Arborway’s green spaces through the Arborway Coalition. Among the other activities for which she is being honored is her part in saving the City’s Park Rangers Mounted Unit.

Iappini, a member of the Jamaica Pond Association (JPA), has been involved in many efforts to preserve and improve Jamaica Pond Park. They include the redevelopment of the Pinebank section of the park and staunch opposition to developments on the wooded Hellenic Hill overlooking the pond. Iappini also was involved in creating the JPA’s policy that asks developers in the area to make donations to the Boston Parks and Recreation Department for park improvements as mitigation.

Most of the other advocates being honored, who live in other neighborhoods, have worked on JP-area parks as well. They include Arlene and Hugh Mattison at Olmsted Park; Walter Little and Dan Richardson at Franklin Park; and the late John Blackwell at Arnold Arboretum.

Among the sponsors of the May 14 award event is Boston Residential Group, the developer of the controversial, stalled apartment project at 161 S. Huntington Ave. overlooking the Jamaicaway. The JPA has tangled with the developer over that plan.