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BOSTON-The battle over the Rose Kennedy Greenway–the 27 acres of open space that was created Downtown thanks to the Big Dig–is officially over. The state, the city and the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, which oversees the massive highway project, agreed to establish a private, non-profit organization to govern the funding and long-term use and management of the property, which is above the underground portion of the Central Artery.

Gov. Mitt Romney, Senate president Robert Travaglini, Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Massachusetts Turnpike Authority chairman Matthew J. Amorello joined US Sen. Edward M. Kennedy to announce the creation of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Conservancy Inc. The city says the creation of the conservancy is a “key step” in determining the future of the Greenway. Planning efforts for the Greenway are already under way by the Turnpike Authority and the city notes that the conservancy will continue to focus on connecting the property with city neighborhoods, communities and the Boston Harbor.

“With a renewed spirit of partnership and collaboration, we are poised to take full advantage of this historic opportunity that will create for Boston a new landmark destination,” says Menino. “Our city’s vision to reconnect our neighborhoods to each other and to our harbor, to make the Greenway a true common ground, is becoming a reality.”

The agreement ensures funding for the Greenway. In addition to the $5 million in seed money from the Turnpike Authority, the agreement calls for the conservancy to raise $20 million in private funds by the end of 2007. If that goal is not fully reached, the state, the city and the Turnpike Authority will work with the conservancy to develop alternative ways to fund the operations and maintenance of the land.

As part of the agreement, and in order to assist the conservancy in building up its endowment reserves, the Turnpike Authority has also pledged to pay 100% of all operation and maintenance costs until 2012. It does not call for the transfer of the state-owned land on which the Greenway will be built.

The conservancy will be headed by a 10-member board of directors. During an initial period that will conclude in 2012, the Turnpike Authority will be responsible for the performance and payment of Greenway operations and maintenance and the city will coordinate events, programs and security. During that time, the Turnpike Authority chairman will appoint five members to the board with the governor and mayor each making two appointments and Sen. Kennedy making one.

The agreement creates four committees: operations and maintenance; programming; endowment and finance; and audit and risk management. All committees will be charged with submitting to the conservancy, along with the state, city and Turnpike Authority for review and approval, a formal plan or protocol within 12 months. A 12-member Greenway Leadership Council will be appointed to represent neighborhood and civic interests on the Greenway. As long as all fundraising targets are reached, the Memorandum of Agreement will remain in effect through 2012.

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