2020 Olmsted Award of Excellence

Honoring Mayor Martin J. Walsh 

The prestigious Olmsted Award of Excellence is presented to an individual or organization who demonstrates an unwavering commitment and service to carrying out Frederick Law Olmsted‘s vision for urban parks through exemplary and enduring work on behalf of our local parks and the Emerald Necklace in particular.

The Emerald Necklace Conservancy is pleased to announce Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh as the 2020 Olmsted Award of Excellence honoree for his administration’s significant investments in Boston’s parks.

Under Mayor Walsh’s administration, $114 million has been spent by the Boston Parks Department on 170 capital construction projects and $60 million allocated to the 1,100 acre Emerald Necklace, the largest-ever capital funding for Boston Parks. These projects include Improvements to Jamaica Pond Pathways and Perimeter, Liff Park restoration, Olmsted Park enhancements, projects funded by the Community Preservation Act and many more. The Boston Parks Department is projected to spend $330M in the 2014-2024 decade, ensuring a huge leap forward for Boston in restoring and improving our important urban parks.

In addition to capital improvements, Mayor Walsh has made several other transformative investments in the Emerald Necklace and beyond,

  • Allocated $23M with a $5M maintenance endowment in perpetuity for Franklin Park improvements. The Boston Parks and Recreation Department has convened a diverse cross-disciplinary team to develop a community-driven Franklin Park Action Plan for an engaging and welcoming Franklin Park.
  • Invested over $200M in the Muddy River Restoration Project, currently in Phase 2. This critical restoration will protect the City from future major storm events by increasing the River’s flood capacity by 90,000 cubic yards (27 Olympic size swimming pools).
  • The City of Boston has been a dedicated partner to the Conservancy’s Olmsted Tree Society, working with us to collaboratively prune, water and care for the Emerald Necklace tree canopy. Thanks to this program, the more than 9,000 trees in the Conservancy’s tree inventory are now being tracked for ongoing care for the first time.

These critical improvements in Boston’s green spaces are key action items on Mayor Walsh’s agenda for a climate-ready and resilient City. We applaud Mayor Walsh for his forethought and preparation through Climate Ready Boston, Boston’s Climate Action Plan, Climate Mayors and C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. We are thankful for these bold and significant actions to lead Boston into a sustainable future.

Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) has a clear vision for urban parks. He believed that parks are democratic – and democratizing – spaces that should be accessible to all. Today, our need to work together toward a just, inclusive and equitable society, starting with our common spaces, remains as true today as it did in Olmsted’s time. Olmsted also knew intuitively that access to nature has physical and mental health benefits for park users. The current pandemic has shined a new light on the universality of parks and their critical role in individual and collective health. Olmsted’s design philosophy centered on the idea that nature and engineering can work together to create naturalistic recreation spaces that also serve as green infrastructure, creating safe, functioning and sustainable cities. Olmsted’s Muddy River in the Emerald Necklace is one of the country’s first examples of green infrastructure; 125 years after its completion, it is still protecting our City from flooding, providing valuable habitat for local wildlife and serving as a backbone to a park system that offers respite and tranquility amid a continually growing and changing cityscape. Much like Olmsted’s, Mayor Walsh’s vision for Boston is not for our generation alone, but for the generations to come who will call our City home. We are proud to recognize Mayor Walsh’s achievements and forethought for the enduring importance of green space in Boston.

Prior Olmsted Award of Excellence recipients include long-time Conservancy volunteer and Olmsted Tree Society founder Janet Atkins (2018), Conservancy Board Chair Benjamin Taylor (2016), former Massachusetts Governor and Conservancy Life Trustee Michael Dukakis (2014) and parks advocate Sarah Freeman (2013).

An Emerald Evening In

October 14, 2020
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Olmsted Award of Excellence Press Release

Please contact Jamie Santuccio with questions.

Boston, MA 6/12/18 – Mayor Martin Walsh attends the Fenway Coffee Hour at the Victory Gardens. (Mayor’s Office Photo by John Wilcox)