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Gift Of Over $20 Million For Boston's Esplanade Would Fund New Visitors Center, Outdoor Spaces

BOSTON (CBS) -- With a $20 million commitment, the Esplanade Association is hoping to transform a two-acre space along the esplanade into an area for the public to enjoy.

"A $20 million gift to the Esplanade would be the largest gift, largest private gift, in the history of the state park system and we're very proud of it," said Michael Nicols, Executive Director of the Esplanade Association.

"The grounds right behind us were used as a maintenance dump by state agencies for about 20 years. We've removed that, and now it's 'what happens now?'" said State Representative Jay Livingstone.

Plans for the proposed Charlesbank Landing project include a year-round Esplanade Riverfront Pavilion visitors center, an event lawn, an outdoor classroom, a nature play area, and a youth regulation size athletic field in the two acre riverfront park.

"It will probably be about the most sustainable two acre site on the Esplanade, it will have recreational benefits for kids playing on the athletic field or using the nature play area," said Nicols.

The visitors center will be a 10,000 square foot facility consisting of a cafe, public restrooms, a roof deck and office space.

Rendering of the Esplanade Riverfront Pavilion at Charlesbank Landing. (Courtesy of Maryann Thompson Architects)

"We wanted a building that helps support the park but at the same time not take away from the beautiful atmosphere and landscape of the park itself," said Nicols.

In order for the project to move forward, pending legislation in the Massachusetts Legislature must pass.

"The legislation would just provide a 30 year lease to the Esplanade Association to allow them to build this under DCR's purview and with requirements for public access and public use."

In the meantime, local organizations like BAMS Fest are voicing their support for the project.

BAMS Fest Founder & Executive Director Catherine Morris said, "for this space to exist means we have a moment, particularly in the city of Boston, to do some amazing radical, imaginative things that are creative."

For more on the proposed Charlesbank Landing project, visit

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