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Letter to the Editor published in Jamaica Plain Gazette, June 23, 2006

Jamaica Plain Gazette, 7 Harris Avenue , PO Box 301139, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130 Phone: (617) 524-2626 Fax: (617) 524-3921


Pinebank is saving itself


Invest in the millennium.

Plant sequoias.

Say that your main crop is the forest

that you did not plant,

that you will not live to harvest.

Say the leaves are harvested

when they have rotted into the mold.

Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus

that will build under the trees

every thousand years.

From "Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front" By Wendell Berry

This a reply to E. Mundel's letter to the editor in the June 9 Gazette, "Pinebank could be saved," which suggested that musical performances could happen there.

While the property values in Jamaica Plain and Brookline doubled, tripled and doubled again, the gate keepers and pundits could not find the funds or time to develop a plan to save Pinebank. The state and city have not found enough funds to build new schools, provide mental health out-patient beds for those abandoned by the hospitals on short notice, or resources to maintain the park systems. The Friends of Pinebank will have to endow the project, because the taxpayers who elected state and city officials do not consider the entire park system a priority in tight fiscal times.

Great Woods (now the Tweeter Center) is just one multimillion dollar failed example of a "Tanglewood in Boston." How many people walk or even take public transportation to Symphony Hall now? I suspect until the price of gasoline hits $4-$6, the majority of music patrons, except for former Governor Michael Dukakis, will not walk to hear music at Pinebank. Surely the musicians and students will not carry heavy instruments or expose the instruments to the elements on foot.

Lastly, Pinebank is not "little-used." It is the most heavily used part of Jamaica Pond Park by over 20 nesting song birds species from the Northern Kingbird and Flicker to the American Gold Finch and rare Orchard Oriole. It is home to squirrels and chipmunks, snakes and snails. The pine trees are vital resting spots for thousands of migrating birds each spring and fall, plus a favorite perch for the Red Tailed Hawk and occasional Osprey and Bald Eagle. I assert a high-impact human use of Pinebank will decrease the nesting bird population in Jamaica Pond Park by 40-60 percent.

There are many historic mansions and sites which could benefit from the vision and resources of the Friends of Pinebank including the nearby Loring Greenough House and Olmsted National Historic Site. The natural world has claimed Pinebank as its home and haven. I humbly suggest that Friends of Pinebank and fellow citizens honor the name and legacy of Pinebank by planting white pine and hemlock trees... so two hundred years from now, the next musical genius will have majestic trees and a natural place as inspiration to compose a new "Rites of Spring" and, most importantly, so we all can hear the daily symphony of the birds.

Stephen Baird