And the 2016 Stewie award goes to…

Teddy Ebersol’s Red Sox Fields! Also known at Stewie Committee Headquarters as the “Teddy Ebersol Grass Museum”.

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Congratulations, Teddy! For the 8th consecutive year, Teddy Ebersol’s Red Sox Fields has garnered the prestigious Stewie, which is awarded annually to the second worst public space in the Boston area.

Here is a brief FAQ about the prestigious Stewie award and its 2016 winner.

What qualifies as a “public space”?

Any place that is open to the public, whether owned or maintained using tax dollars or is privately controlled. Examples include public parks (of course), airport terminals, train stations, college campuses, waterways, “greenways”, bike trails, and so on.

How does the Stewie committee determine what a bad public space is?

Well, it’s the opposite of a good public space, which is one that is well used, one that invites you in, one that is known as a good place to meet old or new friends, one that is accessible, comfortable, and functions well as intended.

An example of a good public space is Post Office Square Park, formerly a parking garage, now an inviting urban oasis. Privately developed and maintained.

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Everybody in the area gravitates to it and enjoys it.

Why does the Stewie go to the second worst public space in Boston and not the worst?

Because there is no question about which space is worst and therefore no surprise about who would get the award. The worst public space in Boston, and maybe anywhere in the country, is, and always will be, City Hall Plaza. It is a vast Sahara of bricks, unbroken by any shade, benches, greenery, water, or other indication that human beings might be able to survive on it for more than a couple of minutes. It is such a complete and abject failure that no other space could ever hope to compete.

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It can only be seen as “successful” if its objective was to keep you from ever entering City Hall itself, the brutalist monstrosity which is also a horribly failed public space.

Who is Teddy Ebersol?

He was the 14 year old son of Dick Ebersol and Susan Saint James who was killed in a chartered jet crash in 2004 in Colorado.

What does this have to do with the field we’re talking about?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. The kid was a Red Sox fan. The father was an NBC exec who is friends with Tom Werner, a Red Sox team owner. They all figured a good way to memorialize the kid was to appropriate a well-used public space and put their own stamp on it.

Isn’t this another example of the privatization of public resources?

Yes. Yes it is. You have to make an appointment to use the field. It’s “closed” one day a week. The permitting process is guided by an unnamed Advisory Board, and the permit schedule is not made public. All weekday field use is permitted to Hill House, a Beacon Hill community group.

What are some other examples of privatization?

Development of beach front real estate that de jure still allows public access to the beach, but de facto makes it almost impossible

Converting metered parking spaces on public streets to reserved spots for Zip-cars and the like.

Allowing small planes to pull ad banners over public spaces, creating flying lawn-mower noise pollution  that makes enjoying your back yard difficult in summer.

Closing off the Boston Esplanade to public use for a week before the July 4 concert for “security reasons”, and reserving large spaces in the venue for “VIPs.”

Allowing tour buses filled with people who want to gawk at Harvard or M.I.T. to park in public bus stops, making it difficult for the public to access their bus and creating unneeded traffic jams.

Private interests have transformed what once was a well utilized and loved space into a virtual “Grass museum”. You can go by there at any time on a beautiful spring or summer day and see not a soul. Once in a while you might see a pack of Beacon Hill nannies with their toddlers off to the side in the shade, wearing their play-time helmets and slathered with sun-screen, but that’s about it.

It is the most underutilized public space in Boston. For decades, this space had been a great destination for anybody wanting to play with their dog, throw a football around, smoke a joint, make out with their love-interest, take a bag lunch, or just hang out. It was well used with no complaints. No more.

Everyone is sorry about Teddy dying in the plane crash, but there simply has to be a better way to honor his memory than to take away a well-used public space and substitute a never-used grass museum.

Today, everything about Teddy Ebersol says, “Keep Out”, and that’s why it’s a perpetual Stewie award winner.  Congratulations and well done.

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