SHIELDS I think in each of the sessions we had something we were presenting just to get the conversation flowing. Even in the initial public meeting at the Boston Public Library we had a big map of the Esplanade up, and even there we had examples, a lot of examples, and a lot of comparables to show people what other parks were doing. And that was a big litmus test for us as to what the appetite might be, for the people who came out, at least.
AT THOSE PUBLIC AND COMMUNITY MEETINGS, WAS THERE ONE THING THAT STOOD OUT FROM THE COMMUNITY FROM PEOPLE TELLING YOU WHAT THEY WANTED OR DIDN'T WANT?
PEDERSON Better facilities, better bathrooms.
NEWMAN It's bathrooms. It's food service. The other thing that came up a lot, the one that surprised me but makes sense, was year-round use. If you had a café and could go inside, then maybe you could be open all year. Right now, everything out there kind of dies. Services are gone for the winter. So year-round use is another big thing. And landscaping was another big issue.
PEDERSON They wanted to see more connections and better signage, I think, too. How to get to the park, and connections into Cambridge.
NEWMAN I live in Back Bay, and you have no idea how many times I've stood at the Public Garden and people have said, "Where's the Esplanade?" And the Fiedler Bridge is right there, but there are no signs; it's a hard entrance to find.
SHIELDS And I think the other thing is that there is almost a global movement to look at urban open spaces and look at the parks and see them as features of the city. And so we're lucky that we have the High Line Park in New York as a model, and Millennium Park in Chicago, and the Art Museum in Seattle . . .
PEDERSON I think people are looking more toward their green spaces now, too, and expecting more from them, especially as you get urban sprawl and things like that.
NEWMAN However, this park borders on the residential areas. From a fundraising standpoint, it's not a Bryant Park or a Millennium Park, where you have businesses all around that are going to see the value of fixing it and be willing to contribute. So that's tougher for this kind of park. We don't have those built-in corporate funders. And state funding is under pressure.
NEWMAN I also think that a lot of people think that park is a city park, not a state park. A lot of people don't realize it's a state park.
SPEAKING OF WHICH, WHAT IS THE PROJECTED COST OF IMPLEMENTING THE VISION? DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA?
SHIELDS Thirty-two dollars and 75 cents. [Laughs.] No we don't. And the reason is, we just haven't really looked at that. But take a look at Longfellow Bridge. It's [budgeted at] over $300 million now. We're hoping to be able to piggyback off that a little bit, and we think that we can save them some money by doing things in a particular way. And the same goes for Storrow Drive. The tunnels have to be rebuilt on Storrow Drive, and we want to piggyback off that as much as we can. On the other hand, some comparables, I think you had the Central Park . . .