Dear Friends of Riverbend Park,
The year 2015 was a busy one for us, coping with damage after the harsh winter and dealing with summer drought, and, at the same time, celebrating the 40 years of Isabella Halsted’s Sunday park, 30 years of our ADOPT-A-LOT program, and 25 years of help from the Shady Hill School.
To honor the memory of our founder, Isabella Halsted, we celebrated our 40th with the Cambridge Art Association exhibition “Just Around the (Charles) Riverbend”
With the imaginative and efficient help of a committee of friends and trustees of Riverbend Park (Liz Adams Lasser, Franziska Amacher, Judy Clapp, Terrence Doyle, George G. Jones, Pam Kogut, Ellen Levine, Joanne Oechler, Emily Romney, Pat Sekler, Mary Ann Szporluk, Traci Thoresen) we were able to assist the CAA in organizing, promoting, and staging the exhibition that ran from July 7th through August 27th. A new volunteer, Diana Meservey, helped the evening of the reception on July 10th.
We are grateful to the CAA for holding the show in their spacious University Place Gallery. The Director, Erin Becker, and her assistant Cory Shea, offered generous assistance as did members of the board and artist volunteers.
Our sponsors for the event, which made possible our gift to Shady Hill, were the Eastern Bank, Fireside Catering, Hammond Real Estate, our former trustee Anne A. Meyer, the Cambridge Savings Bank, the M.I.T. Press Book Store, and Grafton Street. Without their support (particularly the Eastern Bank), our celebration would not have been possible. In addition, members of the Halsted family kindly permitted us to have copies printed of Ibby’s booklet My Childhood, with its charming description of the years of her youth. These were shared with special guests. A few copies remain, for a modest charge, should anyone be interested.
Over forty artists participated in the show, creating works that featured aspects of the ambiance of Riverbend Park – the river, the bridges, flora and fauna, the allée of oriental plane trees, the boathouses, the park in use, etc.
Since Ibby was a talented sketcher and painter, a show of art works seemed to be the most appropriate way to honor her. We were happy that her daughter Bella not only submitted her own work but also selected one of Ibby’s drawings and a watercolor that were featured in the show. With great insight and charm, Bella spoke of Ibby’s love for the river.
We were honored by the visit of the Mayor of Cambridge, the Honorable David Maher, who spoke at length about Ibby’s contribution to the recreational possibilities in Cambridge and added kind words about the Trust’s modest landscaping efforts these past 30 years. Dennis Carlone, a City Councilor, was also present as well as the newly elected member of the Council, Jan Devereux.
The musicians for the event, selected by George G. Jones, created a warm and happy atmosphere. Jody Ebling sang, accompanied by Nicolas Villamizar on the keyboard. One could enjoy the works of art and the music and refresh oneself with delicious food donated by Fireside Catering (arranged by Tracy Thoresen) and nibble on duck and flower cookies (arranged by Ellen Levine). Traci also produced for us magnetized logo buttons. A limited number are still available on request. Eric Thoresen was our evening’s photographer.
The display of historic documents relating to Ibby’s founding of the Trust, put together by Pat Sekler with the installation help of Franziska Amacher, was enjoyed by many, not just those who attended the reception.
In addition to the Director’s Prize given to Hyesin Park, five prizes honoring our former trustees were awarded by the Trust (judged by Donald Freeman of Archimedia and Franziska Amacher FAIA):
The Isabella Halsted Prize for watercolor, Sally De Fazio
The Thomas Eliot Prize, Jeanette Atkinson
The John Moot Prize, Amelie Rorty
The Stash Horowitz Prize, Patty Stone
The Anne A. Meyer Prize, Alexandra Jordankova.
We were delighted to have with us Karl Hagland of the DCR, author of Inventing the Charles River, who spoke about Riverbend Park and presented our Karl Haglund prize for the work most representative of Charles Eliot’s vision for the river. The winner was Jim Kociuba.
The installation, the reception, and the works on display were photographed and will be mounted in an album for our archives. If you missed the exhibition, ask to see the album.
Please remember to thank the CAA for holding the show!
Celebrating Shady Hill’s 25 years of gardening help
In October, to express our gratitude to the Shady Hill School for its quarter of a century of dependable, gracious help with gardening chores, we presented the school with a check for $250. We suggested the funds be used for the planting of a tree on the school’s campus. We also asked the City of Cambridge to issue a Proclamation for Shady Hill.
During the week of October 19th, with the kind help of the City Clerk, Donna Lopez, the Proclamation was approved unanimously by the City Council; the document was subsequently delivered to the Head of School, Mark Stanek.
On November 5th, Terrence Doyle, our Trustee and Treasurer, accompanied by Woody Tucker who supervises the fall work schedule with the children and by Pam Kogut, went to Shady Hill to take part in morning assemblies for the Lower and Upper Schools, honoring the school’s faithful work -- part of their public service program. Standing by a cozy fire burning in the fireplace, and with children and teachers seated all around, Terry described the work of our ADOPT-A-LOT program and the importance of Shady Hill’s contribution. When he asked the Upper School children if they had participated, almost all raised their hands, as did many of the younger children from the Lower School as well. We hope the next quarter of a century will see the continuation of this productive symbiotic relationship.
Speaking of Proclamations, the Trust received one from the City of Cambridge honoring Isabella Halsted and our first 40 years. In addition, thanks to the efforts of Representative Marjorie Decker, the State House of Representatives sent us a Proclamation. Both are handsome documents and we are grateful to have had Isabella Halsted’s work honored in this way.
Income was down considerably in 2015, perhaps because we had reached our fund-raising goal. Our faithful donors probably assumed “enough is enough.” But “enough” these days does not go as far as it used to. Consequently, we are very thankful to all of you who have continued to make generous contributions to help defray our annual expenses. Please try to find new friends for us. Many former friends have either moved away or passed away. To all who contributed, our heartfelt thanks!
Fay Chandler celebration
Fay was among those generous donors who have passed away. But her family organized a wonderfully successful event in her memory, held at the Boston Cyclorama, on September 12th. The many charities she supported were invited to take over a display table to show the main nature of their activities. In addition to the colorful tables, the atmosphere was animated by performances by musical and theatrical groups she supported. All this took place surrounded by the display of Fay’s paintings that were for sale. Each charity was given a number. Paintings that were not sold by a particular time were offered to charities. One simply had to stand by the work one preferred. Whoever had the lowest number was awarded the painting. The Trust now has a wonderful memento of one of our most loyal supporters.
We are very grateful to George G. Jones for being our representative at the event and for selecting the painting for our collection.
We are particularly indebted to the Chandler family for their generosity in organizing the event to showcase all the charities Fay supported and for donating the unsold works of art.
Our new trustee
It is with great pleasure that we announce that Pam Kogut, who did an amazing job organizing people and things for the exhibition, agreed to serve as trustee and has been officially appointed.
New DCR Commissioner
In November 2015, after only seven months on the job, Carol I. Sanchez resigned as Commissioner. She was replaced by Dan Sieger, as acting commissioner. On December 9th, the DCR announced the appointment of Leo Roy as Commissioner.
The black boxes installed by the Cambridge Water Department over the existing water outlets, one near the granite circle, the other in the playlot, are still there as intrusions in the parkland. We have tried to persuade the DCR and the City of Cambridge to put these elements underground. When we first requested water sources, we asked that they be as
inconspicuous as possible, so as not to disturb the historic sweeping views of the parkland and the riverscape. Thus far, we have had no response from either the DCR or the city.
Memorial Drive resurfacing
In 2015, large stretches of Memorial Drive received a fresh surface. When one young skateboarder first saw the new surface, he reacted with one word, ”Awesome.” Indeed,
the improvement was much appreciated not just by skateboarders, but also by skaters, bicyclists, and pedestrians for whom an unexpected pothole can mean a twisted ankle or more serious fall. We hope you noticed what a positive difference it made.
Work on Weeks Bridge completed
Thanks to the efforts of many constituencies, including the CRC, the Weeks Bridge has
been made accessible for the physically challenged. Missing balusters have been installed, replacing those that had long since been pushed or simply fallen into the river due to their own deterioration. In addition, new lamp standards march across the parapets -- something the Trust had advocated for years ago -- replacing the historic ones that disappeared in decades past. We are grateful for this major upgrading of the river park’s infrastructure.
DCR’s refurbishing of Dr. Paul Dudley White bike path
During the fall, the DCR refurbished sections of the bike path. Bikers are well organized. Pedestrians are not. Hence those on foot will continue to be threatened by fast bikes on the pathways until we make a concerted effort to do something about it. If you are interested in this question, please contact us.
Two ailanthus trees along the Mt. Auburn Street side of the playlot were taken down due to decay. This means more sun will reach that area and will necessitate a certain amount of readjustment of the plantings, with varieties better suited to the new conditions.
Playlot azalea replacement
Two Delaware white azaleas were replaced. Unfortunately, the summer developed into an unusually dry one, putting the new shrubs under great stress.
Ongoing landscraping problems
“Landscraping” is not a typo. We are still faced with the desecration of the parkland by all the smokers who have fled the no smoking policy of the Mt. Auburn Hospital. The Hospital has asked its visitors and employees to respect a no-smoking zone for half a mile around its campus. That is well intentioned, but it is wishful thinking.
The ground around the linden tree by 1010 Memorial Drive has been totally scuffed up by all the people who stand there puffing away. What should be lawn is bare earth. The nearby grass is paved with cigarette butts all the way from the linden tree to the two benches by Memorial Drive. The Trust and others have called this to the attention of the Hospital many times. Their response was to put a butt pot by the two benches. Even with this unwanted insertion in our precious greenspace, there are still butts lying around the benches. We are tired of this unhealthful, unsightly mess along one of the most important pedestrian pathways leading to the river.
It is high time for the Hospital to act more responsibly and send someone on a regular basis to clean things up. After all, THIS IS PARKLAND WITH A PLAYLOT FOR YOUNG CHILDREN!!!!
Our intrepid volunteers
Nancy Hurlbut and Traci Thoresen continue to help with our fund raising. Both also do “double-duty” by helping with the gardening chores: Nancy tends her Sparks Street bed and both help with fall bulb planting.
Pat Sekler still works with Shady Hill classes in the spring and was grateful for the help of Joanne Oechler and Magda McCormick. Joanne also added 100 tarda tulips to the lily of the valley bed at Willard Street and once again acquired the two giant mum plants for the David Berray Memorial bench for September 11th. Dexter Holt added another 100 tulips of last year’s variety along the hospital garage wall Woody Tucker deals with fall cleanup and bulb planting. Eight classes came from Shady Hill, thanks to the organizational skills of one of the teachers, Josh Horwitz. Some 600 new bulbs got planted. Elizabeth Jochnick keeps the old stump “in blossom.”
Woody reports that her adult volunteers were Ginny Dubos, Susan Devins, Nancy Hurlbut, Magda McCormick, Diana Meservey, Joanne Oechler, Gabriella Romanov, and Traci Thoresen, all of whom worked around the playlot adding 150 mixed bulbs. Pam Kogut took care of part of the fall bulb distribution, with the greater share going to George G. Jones who reinforced the sparsely planted daffodil and tulip areas in the granite circle at Hawthorn Street. Pam put in new allium at the playlot and used her extra energies to purchase and plant even more varieties. Chippie’s Book Box was taken care of again by Jerry Michael.
We are saddened to have to report that Peter Scully, who wielded the hoses at the playlot for many years and who was one of out first donors thirty years ago, passed away in January. We will all miss the sight of Peter walking his little dog several times a day. When he announced his “retirement” from the watering chores last year, our first reaction was panic. But two volunteers stepped forward, Judy Clapp and Dexter Holt. Not until they had worked for several weeks did they realize what a challenge it was. When the drought came, they remained faithful, despite the extra effort involved. We are very grateful to them for their help. Linda Black continued her faithful clean-up work in Lower Longfellow Park.
We hope you will appreciate the efforts of all these volunteer helpers, even though
the results can be a bit of a surprise: some of the kids as well as some of the adults have their own ideas of where things should go. In any event, it should be a colorful spring!
Jose Rivera continues to do our heavy tasks of mulching and trimming.
The promised website
In 2015, our efforts were concentrated elsewhere, but we are hopeful that part of 2016 can be devoted to putting news of the Trust in electronic format.
CAA Cambridge Art Association
CRC Charles River Conservancy
DCR Department of Conservation and Recreation
PRPT People for Riverbend Park Trust
Franziska Amacher, community liaison <>
Terrence Doyle, treasurer <>
Pam Kogut <>
Pat Sekler, president, coordinator of the ADOPT-A-LOT
TELEPHONE CONTACT NUMBERS
Pat Sekler, Coordinator, ADOPT-A-LOT program …………………….617 547 9103
(questions regarding the Trust and its activities or for volunteering)
Franziska Amacher (community relations questions)…………….…617 354 8707
Woody Tucker (fall bulb planting)……………………………………………617 492 6757
DCR (fallen limbs, equipment problems, sand, grass cutting) …...617 727 1058
* * *
Thank you for reading our NEWSNOTES 2016