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Old 05-30-2006, 07:24 PM   #11
philip
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Menino opposes Armenian memorial on Greenway

By Thomas C. Palmer Jr., Globe Staff | May 30, 2006

Placing a memorial donated by the Armenian-American community on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway would open the door to other groups with causes and is ``a dangerous precedent to start," said Mayor Thomas M. Menino.

Menino has joined a chorus of influential public officials and others who don't have a direct say in what gets built on the Greenway -- the city's rainbow at the end of 15 years of urban disruption -- but have weighed in against the memorial.

Other opponents include Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy board members, who have questioned whether the park corridor is an appropriate location for a memorial.

"We could have 44 out there -- what prevents that?" Menino said in an interview. ``It's a dangerous precedent to start."

The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, which oversaw the Big Dig and is constructing the new parks, plans to install a park to be paid for by the Armenian Heritage Tribute and Genocide Memorial Foundation. The design includes a 12-sided sculpture recalling the 12 former provinces of Armenia, a water jet and pool, and a 60-foot-diameter labyrinth of paved granite and grass, symbolizing renewal and hope.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy told the Globe that the conservancy, a nonprofit group organized to fund and maintain the emerging corridor of downtown parks, should decide whether the memorial belongs there.

``The conservancy should try to make the judgment," Kennedy said. The senator suggested a moratorium on proposals for Greenway memorials, similar to one that has been in effect since 2003 on the National Mall in Washington.

The National Mall has now become home to 19 memorials or plaques, while Greenway planners over the last decade have said they don't want to dot the new parks with commemorative monuments.

Kennedy's suggestion for a moratorium is consistent with the wishes of the 10-member board of the conservancy. At this month's meeting, chairman Peter Meade said the board hoped to go at least five years before considering proposals for groups that want space on the Greenway.

Menino said there could be another suitable place in Boston for a small park that would recall the Armenian Genocide that began in 1915. ``If there's an alternate site, I'd be willing to work with the Armenian community to put it there," Menino said.

In 2000, the Legislature directed the Turnpike Authority to study whether there was a place -- the legislation did not specify where -- for a memorial to the Armenian Genocide.

James M. Kalustian, president of the board of about 45 religious and cultural institutions that make up the Armenian heritage foundation, said their proposal fits in with Greenway parks planned for the North End and Chinatown.

``To say there's no ethnicity on the Greenway, I don't think that's a fair statement," he said. But those two parks were conceived as both public and neighborhood-oriented parks from the start, and unlike the Armenian park will be located in largely ethnic neighborhoods.

The proposed park was shown publicly for the first time at a meeting of North End and Wharf District residents last month, and Turnpike officials made clear they plan to build it on a piece of land near Christopher Columbus Park.

``It's going there," said Fred Yalouris, director of urban architecture for the Big Dig. ``The only question is the design, and what the inscriptions are."

Supporters, including state Representative Peter J. Koutoujian, say that the park would display the names of accomplished Armenian-Americans, as well as those of the former provinces.

Koutoujian and others have emphasized that the park will recall the struggles of other groups as well as Armenians.

``It will be as universal in its message as possible," Donald J. Tellalian of Tellalian Associates Architects & Planners LLC of Boston, the lead designer, said this month.

The park would cost about $4 million and is to be funded and maintained by its sponsors. That would save the Turnpike and conservancy considerable amounts of money.

But US Representative Michael E. Capuano, whose district includes the North End and Chinatown sections of the Greenway, said he also was concerned about fairness in the consideration of proposals by groups representation.

"We should put every one of these projects under the same criteria," said Capuano, who joined Kennedy last week at the groundbreaking of the Greenway park in Chinatown.
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