Many thanks to Senator Anthony Petruccelli and Rep. Jay Livingstone for introducing today S. 1966: An Act Enabling the Department of Conservation Management to lease real Property. This would allow the 1818 Powder Magazine to go under DCR’s Historic Curatorship Program, giving DCR the option of leasing out the structure to a “curator”/3rd party, in exchange for their converting it to its next use.
At the turn of the 20thth century, the Olmsted Brothers were hired to convert the Magazine—built to store gun powder—into a bathhouse for Charles River swimmers. Later, in the 1950ies, MDC converted the bathhouse into a garage/office. The stone block building has now sat derelict for decades. In 2014, though, with the help of the City of Cambridge and over 100 individual donors, DCR will stabilize the structure, giving it a new roof, windows, doors and security lighting. It is essential that a concession be lined up to activate the space to bring life to it before it becomes vandalized again. The Historic Curatorship Program will allow for this without expending State dollars. A lease/conversion option like this one, makes reactivating the Magazine and park a possibility, even in this tough economy. Thank you Olivia Fiske, Marge Amster, Gina Foote and Cathie Zusy for sharing testimony and to Renata von Tscharner and Marilyn Wellons for submitting letters of support. And we are so grateful to Sen. Petruccelli and Rep. Livingstone for their commitment to improvements at Magazine Beach. More as we know more….
Boston APP/Lab Forum Tuesday Jan. 28th, 6:30pm at BSA Space (290 Congress St., Boston)
Lessons from Cambridge’s Magazine Beach Project: What can we do together that we can’t do separately?
Great session. Here are the notes: http://bostonapp.org/sessionnotes/january-2014-inter-institutional-collaboration/
A COMPLEX INITIATIVE with many parts and many players is underway at Magazine Beach to restore both the 1818 Magazine itself and the riverside open space that surrounds it. This is a significant case study about aligning the art, the public, and the place on a critical site, with participants ranging from the nearby neighborhood association to State government and agencies to artists to non-profits. While much has been accomplished, much remains to be done. Join BostonAPP/Lab: Art in Public Places on January 28, 6:30PM, at BSA Space, to examine this particular “intersection” of art, politics, and economics, and to participate in provoking new ideas not only about Magazine Beach but about other possibilities and other projects. The “lead provocateurs” are: Evan Hines (Director of Development, State Department of Conservation and Recreation); Rep. Jay Livingstone, 8th Suffolk District, Massachusetts House; Rob Trumbour, Director, ArtForming; Renata von Tscharner, Founder and President, Charles River Conservancy; Cathie Zusy, Chair, Magazine Beach Committee, Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association.Ron Mallis and Lillian Hsu, Co-chairs, Boston.APP: Art in Public Places
Many thanks to Bill August for the photos of a heron that he saw at the park October 30th. Birder Janet Crystal notes that Great Blue Heron “don’t migrate like other birds. They are considered a partial migrant because they may move south from their northernmost breeding range as the weather gets colder. They will stay around this area year-round as long as there is open water where they can catch food. It’s not unusual for them to stay around throughout the winter.”
The Riverside Boat Club’s Dick Garver says that rowers often see them standing motionless on the riverbanks. Mary Holbrow added that they are often spotted at the waterfall in Newton/Watertown. Here’s a video of a heron pursuing herring during a recent herring run in the Charles (near the Watertown dam). 2013 was a great year for herring in the Charles.
Mary Holbrow identified the oriole nest above, looking much like a crocheted sack, just on the park side of the pedestrian footbridge. She notes that “According to an informative piece on the National Wildlife Federation website, many birds that use string seem to like white string best. Where the nesting bird found this much of it is a puzzle, though. Possibly from fiberglass scraps and monofilament fishing line.”
After some research, she added: “I looked into bird vision a bit on line. Birds’ visual capabilities are different from ours and differ from one species to another, but in general they have a higher density of red-green-blue color receptors than we do, and also ultraviolet receptors. This makes their vision and contrast perception sharper than ours, so probably your white string shows up brilliantly to them among the greenery. They probably use rather short lengths of string, too; apparently about 6 inches is ideal. Tight knots would be a problem, though; I imagine that last year’s string, if still around, would be easier for them to get off from shriveled leaves and branches.”
Send us your photos of wildlife at the park. This 15-acre stretch along the Charles is our local preserve!
What a fabulous New Year’s gift! Just before the blizzard, DCR was able to get the Magazine covered–a stop gap measure until the new slate roof is installed in the spring. As you’ll see below, the snow slides right off of it. Check it out. The pedestrian footbridge has been plowed, so Magazine Beach is accessible and a beautiful winter wonderland.
I think we can be proud of our 2013 accomplishments at Magazine Beach, noted below. Look for construction at the Powder Magazine come spring, more cleanups, and a spectacular 2014 Celebration of the park June 14th! We also hope to update and complete the landscape plan for the western part of the park and to move forward on other park improvements.
Thanks for your part in all of this and happy, happy holidays!
Cathie Zusy, Chair Magazine Beach Committee, Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association, Inc., a 501c3 tax-exempt, non-profit, firstname.lastname@example.org
2013 Milestones at Magazine Beach
- Senator Anthony Petruccelli and Rep. Jay Livingstone meet with DCR and City officials.
-DCR removes graffiti from the Powder Magazine, removes the broken playground, and prunes trees.
-We organize two community cleanups with partners the Charles River Conservancy, Riverside Boat Club and DCR. The CRC hosts six more including Starbucks, Novartis, Vertex, Sanofi, and many other groups!
-We offer three programs: a history tour, a birdwatching and foraging walk, and a tour of the Cottage Farm Sewer Combined Overflow Facility. See Mary Holbrow’s blog post at http://www.cctvcambridge.org/MagazineBeachWalk.
-Our first fundraising house party, hosted by Decia Goodwin and Brian Conway, with marvelous graphics by Brian and a movie about Captain’s Island by Augie Cummings: https://vimeo.com/62881865.
-MIT students do a Magazine Beach makeover, producing an exhibit, strategic plan and Facebook page (with donate button!) for us.
-DCR Open House of Powder Magazine.
-Presentation of the Historic Structure Report for Powder Magazine. DCR will post on their site in early 20014.
-Our 2013 Celebration featuring art installations by Artforming and Danielle Saurve, a community performance orchestrated by Nancy Adams, music by Best Ever Chicken, and a publication about Captain’s Island and the Powder Magazine by Nina Cohen and Marilyn Wellons (posted at www.magazinebeach.wordpress.com). See Ron Wyman’s film at http://vimeo.com/69414298.
-The City of Cambridge appropriates $100k of Community Preservation Act Funds to help stabilize the 1818 Powder Magazine.
-DCR’s Comm. Jack Murray announces that DCR will match City money and the money the CNA raised (just over $11k), too, to stabilize the Powder Magazine and add security lighting (about $300k, total, to do the work).
- Senator Petruccelli and Rep. Livingstone draft legislation to put the Magazine on the DCR’s Historic Curatorship list whereby a business gets a long-term lease to the building in exchange for converting it to its next use. A concession/ meeting space????
-DCR’s Sr. Planner Rick Corsi meets with Cambridge Conservation Commission Jennifer Letourneau to draft a vegetation management plan for the park.
-DCR covers roof with rubber membrane, protecting it from the elements until the new slate roof is installed.
-DCR publishes the Historic Structure Report for Powder Magazine, and solicits RFP to reroof the Magazine (to specs by Clark & Green).
Thanks to the many talented and passionate volunteers who helped make all of these things happen; to our wonderful colleagues at DCR, the CRC and the RBC; to our committed politicians; and to our funders: the New England Grassroots Environmental Fund, Charles River Conservancy, Forest City and Anonymous. Thanks to our efforts, over $300k will be invested in the Powder Magazine in 2014. The Magazine Beach Committee’s operating expenses (to pay for materials for the Celebration and stipends for the writers and filmmaker) have been just over $4k. Now that’s a lot of bang for each buck!