Olmsted actor to lead Hellenic Hill tour

May 24, 2013
By

A tour along Hellenic Hill and the Arborway on June 2 will be led by actor and Friends of Jamaica Pond president Gerry Wright performing in character as Emerald Necklace Park designer Frederick Law Olmsted.

Wright, who has performed one-man plays about Olmsted, will talk about the importance of Hellenic Hill as a watershed for the pond and efforts to preserve the private woodland as a public resource. The tour also will highlight other parkland improvement efforts by Friends of Jamaica Pond and the Arborway Coalition, including a new tree-planting slated for the day before the tour.

Hellenic Hill is the wooded hillside that serves as a backdrop for the western side of the pond. It is owned by Brookline’s Hellenic College and has been the subject of repeated controversial development plans over the years, most recently in 2011. Wright is among the activists who have fought off development plans and urged the acquisition of the land as a public park.

“Vigilance is needed,” he told the Gazette in a recent interview.

The tour ties into two other Wright efforts. One is “Olmsted 2022,” an effort to spur regional and national environmental improvement projects timed for Olmsted’s 200th birthday in 2022. Olmsted designed Jamaica Pond Park, the Arborway and other Boston parkland in the late 1800s.

The other is a new program called “Running and Walking for Peace,” which will encourage people to explore their parks and understand the importance of “clean air, trees and clean water.” Famed Boston Marathon runner Bill Rodgers, an old friend of Wright, is the honorary chairman of the effort. In part, it is a revival of the Worldwide Running Club for Peace founded in 1982 by Wright and Rodgers as a Cold War cultural exchange of marathon-runners from the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

The walk will begin at 3 p.m. at the Jamaica Pond Boathouse at the Jamaicaway and Pond Street. For more information, call 617-524-7070 or email fredericklawolmsted@yahoo.com.