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Setting the Preserve’s Framework priorities

After more than ten months of analyzing nearly every aspect of the Preserve, from the condition of our more than 40 structures, to the possible impacts of sea level rise and climate change, a priority list of projects was approved by the Preserve’s Board of Directors last month. This first phase of our Framework plan will be implemented over the next five years.

This Framework planning project arose from the recent significant expansion in acreage and infrastructure when the management of the three gardens and natural lands were combined under the umbrella of the Preserve beginning in 2018. I am personally excited as we move into the next phase of the Preserve’s evolution as one organization.

On August 13th, during a warm, beautiful summer evening beside the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden, the Preserve’s board and staff were fortunate to watch and listen to the Framework project’s final presentation by the Unknown Studio led design team. The team, represented by Claire Agre and David Zielnicki from Unknown Studio along with Miriam Kelly and Richard Southwick from Beyer Blinder Belle, delivered a graphic presentation of ideas and priorities to guide us as we plan to accommodate a growing staff team, increased visitation including dog visits at Little Long Pond, adapting to climate change, and creating future programs such as the Roc Caivano Artist-in-Residency and student internships.

The ideas and concepts presented on August 13th focused on all areas of the Preserve with overarching objectives to improve the work areas for the Preserve team, enhance our visitors’ experiences, and find ways to better protect our local environment while becoming more resilient to climate change.

A major focus of the priority list is to upgrade the “back of house” to ensure that we are taking care of our team who often work behind the scenes to make the experiences at our lands and gardens possible. Some of the projects include renovating the Asticou Azalea gardeners’ shed by replacing the rotting floor, upgrading the septic system, and improving utilities which includes installing high speed internet. At Thuya, the garden team’s work area will be upgraded and renovated to include a better workshop, a dedicated lunchroom, and more areas for storage of supplies and tools. At the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden, upgrades will include installation of a modern electric supply, high speed internet access, and renovated areas for a workshop, lunchroom, and storage of supplies and tools.

One of the larger projects will be the renovations of and additions to the Greenrock complex on Peabody Drive. Currently, Greenrock is home base for our facilities team and lands and trails crew. They are working out of old, inefficient, deteriorating buildings, some of which date back to at least the 1920s. The renovated complex will be able to house our entire administrative, facilities, and lands and trails teams in a centralized, modern, and energy-efficient series of buildings.

We are still in the early stages of planning, but I am jazzed at the prospect of our teams being able to work in purposely designed, year-round spaces. As the Preserve moves further along in the process, look for more information about our plans that will allow us to better accomplish our mission to share these historic lands and gardens with you.

Rodney Eason, CEO

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