Friends of the Public Garden announces Henry Lee Fund for Boston Parks

By Dan Murphy

The Friends of the Public Garden announced the creation of a new fund named for its president emeritus, Henry Lee, during a public launch event on Tuesday, June 11, at the Parkman Bandstand on the Boston Common.

The Henry Lee Fund for Boston Parks was established, according to the Friends group, to “provide small grants for tree and sculpture care and support special projects in public greenspaces in neighborhoods throughout Boston,” on an annual basis, with a panel group reviewing all applications. 

Leslie Singleton Adam, chair of the Friends of the Public Garden board of directors, said the fund had already raised $1 million towards its $2 million goal and thanked those in attendance at the event who had already contributed to the cause.

Adam added that since she had taken on her current role with the Friends about eight years ago, it could be daunting at times, “but the best part was that I knew I’d have time with Henry Lee.”

Boston Parks Commissioner Ryan Woods pointed to the unique and symbiotic partnership that exists between the city and the Friends group, especially since they entered into a Memorandum of Agreement in January of 2020, which strengthened their then 50-year-old partnership.

Woods also credited Lee for the transformation of the Boston Common (along with the Public Garden and Commonwealth Avenue Mall), since he helped form the Friends group in 1970.

District 8 City Councilor Sharon Durkan, who represents the Public Garden, the Commonwealth Mall, and the Common,  presented Lee with an Official Resolution from the Boston City Council in recognition of his support of the city’s parks over the years.

“It is a real honor and a treat to get to be here for the founding of the Henry Lee Fund for Boston Parks,” Councilor Durkan said in part. “I have been a fan of the Friends of the Public Garden, and I’ve been an ally with you and now I’m excited to be an ally with the Henry Lee Fund, which is going to do so much good throughout the city for our parks. Thank you so much for your leadership, and we can’t wait to partner with you for all of Boston’s green spaces.”

Upon taking the podium, Lee, now 99, thanked the group for honoring him with the creation of the new fund and reflected on how the Friends got its start with only $200 in its coffers, including his donation of $100.

Lee also pointed to the great partnership that now exists between the Friends and the Boston Parks Department, which he said, “today does a splendid job with these parks.”

Likewise, Lee lauded Liz Vizza, the outgoing president of the Friends group, for doing a “marvelous, wonderful job” and said in jest he loved taking credit for her work.

Meanwhile, Lee urged those in attendance to not just grow complacent with how far the city’s parks have come, and to instead think of the future by committing themselves to continuing to care for these parks with diligence.

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