Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Museums, night life, and the Central Artery. On a day when the papers are reporting that Mitt Romney's team conducted the proverbial nationwide search before hiring a Kerry Healey hack for a $55,000-a-year deputy lawyer's job (part of the state's "core mission," no doubt), and that House Speaker Tom Finneran is trying to sneak through a pay raise for his top lieutenants (Globe coverage here; Herald coverage here), there is good news report as well.

The Globe's Tom Palmer writes that two groups are proposing museums for the Central Artery greenway, raising hopes -- at least my hopes -- that misguided plans to turn it into one big park will be toned down or even scuttled. I'm particularly intrigued by the proposed Boston Historical Museum, which would fill a long-overlooked need.

What's crucial is that the greenway have some buildings and some life, and that it attract people down there 12 months a year, during the evening as well as the day. Those well-intentioned nature advocates seem to forget that this is Boston, not San Diego, and that the weather makes a park attractive only five or six months a year.

Moreover, too much green space will turn the former Central Artery land into a deserted, inhospitable place at night (except to the homeless), making an after-hours excursion about as enticing as a take-your-life-into-your-hands jaunt through the Boston Common.

If you build, people will come.

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