Lawrence Harmon’s July 28 op-ed column “Privatization of Brighton field would set bad precedent” is spot on. The parkland along the Charles River is public trust land owned by the Department of Conservation and Recreation. When a private college wants to build a high-intensity sports complex for its private use on 8.5 acres of riverfront parkland, there should first be a transparent and public process. None occurred here.
The legislation that merged the Metropolitan District Commission and Department of Environmental Management into the DCR wisely created a Stewardship Council, charged with developing an oversight strategy of park management plans and policy development.
The council should be reviewing proposals like that of Simmons College, and making recommendations to the agency in advance of legislation for these types of land transfers. This would serve to open the process and provide the opportunity for public review and comment.
The council should also spearhead the development of thoughtful guidance on public-private partnerships that would ensure the protection of the public interest.
The Charles River was awarded the International River Prize by the International River Foundation in Australia last September for a reason. Over the last 50 years, it has become a magnificent resource.
We can and should do better.