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Boston’s newest waterfront park could be funded through private condos inside it

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It’s worked in Brooklyn

Shinya Suzuki/Flickr

A consensus seems to be emerging about how to develop a major waterfront park in Boston: Raise a ton of funds from private individuals and companies—tens of millions of dollars, in fact—and then work with the city on developing and maintaining the selected site.

The other method would seem to be public funding initially, with private funds coming later—hopefully—from abutting businesses and developments (such as what seems to be happening re: the Greenway and the Greenway’s possible extension).

But there is a third way, one that will ensure money for maintenance later on: Private developments within a public park.

Here’s how it worked in Brooklyn. Around the turn of the century, private boosters and public officials moved to create a park on former industrial space along New York’s East River.

To fund such an undertaking on such valuable land—the Brooklyn waterfront was undergoing a major rejuvenation that would see the creation of thousands of luxury condos and apartments—both sides agreed to the creation of a quasi-public corporation to oversee not only the development of the park itself, but, crucially, the approval of private developments within the park.

It’s those developments that fund what’s now known as Brooklyn Bridge Park.

The park opened in 2010 and now runs to approximately 90 acres. Within its footprint are four private developments, with one more planned. Revenue from those developments, sent to the park’s corporation, pay for the maintenance of the greensward.

The setup has not been without its critics, who have objected to both the idea of private funding for a public park and the necessity of continuing to pock such a park with private developments. Indeed, the fifth private project in Brooklyn Bridge Park faces a legal challenge from some local residents who say there is no longer a need for the developments because there’s already plenty of revenue coming in for maintenance.

And the park did require some hefty public funds upfront—$368 million from New York City and New York State.

However, there it is: A gorgeous new public park on a bustling waterfront and the upkeep paid for through private developments within its footprint.

What’d you think?