BHI-AC Bylaws ~ May 2014 Briefing Paper and Preamble by Rob Moir,

But for a robust outreaching and inclusive Advisory Council there would be no Boston Harbor Islands National Park Area. July 1998, the Advisory Council was constituted with 28 members, three ex-officio members and about a half dozen alternate members interested in serving. By 2014, the Advisory Council had fallen to about half that number. That number is not clear due to the lengthy period of time it takes for government to appoint new members and out-going members are to serve until replaced. A number of long-serving individuals stepped down stating that they would like to give someone else to opportunity to serve on the Advisory Council. Yet, very few stepped up to the opportunity.

In response to the problem of attrition, a Bylaws Committee was formed to gather suggestions on how the Bylaws might be amended. The Bylaws Committee have been lively. What was expected to be straight forward, address what constitutes quorum and jigger the numbers to fit the current reality of AC membership, turned instead into a dilemma that went to the heart of the mission of the Advisory Council. On the one hand was argumentation fro efficiency of process with a smaller Advisory Council. On the other hand was call for inclusiveness of all 28 stakeholders plus alternates and ex-officio members resulting in greater voice and more robust solutions. I am a champion for this horn of the bylaws dilemma because that was the Advisory Council in 2000 when the Park’s General Management Plan was adopted by unanimous consent.

This is a report on what changes to the Bylaws were proposed. Instead of winnowing bylaws suggested for change by recommending to you the ones the committee thinks most worthy, I present all bylaws suggested for your consideration to change or keep.

First some history on the three obstacles to creating the Boston Harbor Islands National Park Area and how in each case it was a burgeoning Advisory Council inclusive of many interests that enabled the park to be legislated into existence.

1. In 1996, the year the park was created, Congress created a special committee to make recommendations on de-constructing the National Park Service. Many a tax gath payer wished to see their dollars spent closer to home and thus in 1972 the first national recreational area were created in San Francisco and New York. The Boston Harbor Islands National Park Area went to the extreme of no federal purchase of any properties and no obligation to pay any operating expenses. All of the involved land owners maintained autonomous authority over their properties.

The Advisory Council was the value-added entity brought to the Boston Harbor Islands by the NPS. Get more than the land owners involved and, with more people engaged with the park, more money will be raised. With the gentrification of the harbor following the cleanup perhaps municipalities would levy a view tax for the new island park. More groups should become involved via the Advisory Council. Community groups were added as an interest group to the AC. So in addition to Southie and Winthrop, Roxbury and Dorchester, Medford and Somerville, would become involved in the park via the Advisory Council.

2. The decision as to whether the 1996 legislature would hear of forming a new national park was up to the Subcommittee Chair, Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell. He was not pleased because the first group to challenge making the Boston Harbor Islands a unit in the National Park System where Native Americans.

They found the designation "Recreational Area" offensive and disrespectful of the thousands of Native Americans who had been incarcerated by the colonists on the Boston Harbor Islands throughout the seventeenth and into the eighteenth century. Many were sent to the islands during and after the King Phillips War and, while incarcerated given little food, water or shelter - and few survived. Not only were Native Americans who fought against the colonists sent there, but also those who fought alongside the colonists. Even people who had converted to Christianity and lived with the colonists as "praying Indians" were sent to the island camps.

Eight federally recognized tribes, as well as a number of non-federally recognized tribes, claim connections to the Harbor Islands because members of their tribes died there. Native American testified before the Senate that to call the burial grounds resulting from "the Massachusetts Bay Colony's government policy of passive extermination" a national recreation area was unacceptable.

Legitimate questions were raised. Did this mean that the NPS was going to be making beaches all over the place as opposed to interpreting history where the whole story was not necessarily a happy story? Absolutely not, serious interpretation is always the intention. The recreation name referred to a new form of park, one that served an urban population.

Senator Nighthorse Campbell's concerns with the name and the leadership were addressed to his satisfaction. After the park was legislated the first order of business for the newly constituted Partnership would be to agree on an "as known as" name for the park that would not include the word recreation. It was later agreed that the "Boston Harbor Islands, a National Park Area" would be the wording on the stationary, website, and signage.

A Native American was not named to the Partnership by the legislation. Instead, Native Americans were an interest category named to the Advisory Council. Representatives from each of the eight tribal nations participated in choosing four to serve as members of the AC and four to be alternates that also received all communications. Expanding the Native American interest category to four members necessitated increasing each of the six other interest categories to four. There came to be an Advisory Council of 28. Edith Andrews, a Wampanoag Aquinna, was chosen to represent Native Americans on the Partnership and I was chosen to represent the rest of the Advisory Council on the Partnership.

3. The Advisory Council enabled surmounting the next hurdle to creating a national park area in the Boston Harbor Islands. The National Parks and Conservation Association (NPCA) was not pleased, "more than skeptical," to see so much power vested in the land owners. It looked to them like an aberration of the entrepreneurial spirit to the extreme - like putting the foxes in charge of the hen house. Here was legislation including phrases like "managing by partnership" and "the cooperative management of lands within the park area." Yet, the Secretary of the Interior is ultimately responsible for controlling whether a national park meets standards and criteria. It was the NPCA's responsibility to sue the government when it fails to uphold its standards. Suing a partnership of thirteen agencies and interest groups would be a bit more difficult for the nonprofit organization.

The NPS would not be relinquishing any authority because they were not managing any of the Harbor Islands to begin with. The NPCA concerns were addressed by the Advisory Council. The legislation called for advocacy, environmental, and educational groups on the Council. The NPCA was invited to be on the Council. The NPCA refused to become part of a government structure, stating its need to keep separate in order to be an effective watch-dog and park advocate for the public.

More than the number of visitors to the park, the BHI Advisory Council gives legitimacy to the Boston Harbor Islands National Park Area because the AC is testimony to the diversity of interests involved in the park. A burgeoning AC is clearly better serving urban communities and more likely growing (networking) away from the harbor than is a diminishing number through attrition. In the beginning there were 28 members plus three ex-officio members and a handful of alternate members. Due to a number of factors, today we have half the number of individuals involved. Stepping off the AC for a year to let other serve is not an encouragement for others to become active, especially when there are positions in need of individuals.

Table 1. Founding Advisory Council Members Listed Alphabetically First by Interest Category

Name / AC Interest Category / Organization
Vivien Li / Boston Harbor Advocacy / The Boston Harbor Islands Association
Suzanne Gall Marsh / Boston Harbor Advocacy / Friends of the Boston Harbor Islands
Rob Moir / Boston Harbor Advocacy / Save the Harbor/Save the Bay
Richard Clark Shaner / Boston Harbor Advocacy / Fort Revere Park and Preservation Society, Hull
Regina Burke / Business and Commercial / Hull Chamber of Commerce
Peter Davidoff / Business and Commercial / Bosport Docking, LLC
Constitution Marina
Bernie Dreiblatt / Business and Commercial / Beacon Management Company – Real Estate
Greg Ketchem / Business and Commercial / New England Aquarium
Samira Al-Ghuiyy / Community Groups / Environmental Diversity Forum
Tom Lindberg / Community Groups / Jones Hill Neighborhood Assoc.
Ed McCabe / Community Groups / Hull Lifesaving Museum
Claudia Smith-Reid / Community Groups / Roxbury Multi-Service Center
Mary Corcoran / Educational and Cultural / MA Bay Education Alliance
Jim Hewitt / Educational and Cultural / Friends of the Lightship Nantucket
Sherman Morss / Educational and Cultural / U.S.S. Constitution Museum
Jack Wiggin / Educational and Cultural / Urban Harbors Institute
University of Massachusetts
John Dinga / Environmental Organizations / Mass Marine Educators
William D. Giezentanner / Environmental Organizations / Appalachian Mountain Club
John Lewis / Environmental Organizations / Sierra Club
Marcie Tyre / Environmental Organizations / Seaside Environmental Alliance
David Calnan / Municipalities / Town of Hingham
Joe Ferrino / Municipalities / Town Hall of Winthrop
Phil Lemnios / Municipalities / Hull Town Manager
Bernice Mader / Municipalities / Mayor's Office, Quincy
Edith Andrews / Native American Interests / Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah)
Stephen Comer / Native American Interests / Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians
John Sam Sapiel / Native American Interests / Penobscot Nation
Lawrence Snake / Native American Interests / Delaware Tribe of Western Oklahoma (Anadarko)
Ex-Officio Members
Nancy Gromossky / Ex-Officio / Representative Joseph Kennedy's Office
Linnea Ovans / Ex-Officio / Representative William Delahunt's Office
David Soule / Ex-Officio / Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC)

Why Change Our Bylaws

One factor for fewer AC participants today is our Bylaws. In the beginning with a General Management Plan in much need of attention, we adopted with much haste bylaws that were tried and true for traditional government agencies. However, our partnership governance is unique. We are path-breaking for other parks. Here more AC participants actually means more visibility, more political legitimacy, often more robust solutions and ultimately more funding from government. Politically speaking, the Advisory Council is like a charity thermometer with the more people visibly active in the AC, engaged in park management, the more successful the park.

The BHI Advisory Council operates under the provisions of a charter issued by Secretary of the Interior. Our Charter states: "The Council, in consultation with the DFO, may establish such by-laws and procedures as it considers necessary to carry out its functions." It is therefore very appropriate to form a Bylaws Committee and to bring to the attention of all Advisory Council members any and all possibilities for changes that will result in more individuals advising, watch-dogging, and engaged in the management of the Boston Harbor Island National Park Area. The By-Laws Committee has worked hard to be inclusive of all potential changes, regardless the number of proponents or the rationale. Decisions rest with the Advisory Council not in recommendations but forth by the Committee.


[This is an all inclusive list of suggestions for changes. Some suggested changes have more merit than others. Here are suggestions both recommended and not recommended by the Bylaws Committee. To save space only the rationale for change is presented.]

ARTICLE I General Provisions

2. Official Address. The official mailing address and telephone number of the Advisory Council shall be: 15 State Street, Suite 1100, Boston, Massachusetts 02109. Telephone: 617/223-8666.

CONSIDER change to: current address and contact information.

RATIONALE: Update the address from Atlantic Avenue to State Street


ARTICLE IV Membership

1. Composition of Advisory Council. The Advisory Council shall consist of 28 members nominated and appointed in accordance with Section 2 of P.L. 104-333.

CONSIDER change to: The Advisory Council shall consist of 21 members nominated and appointed in accordance with Section 2 of P.L. 104-333.

RATIONALE: If positions cannot be filled reduce the number of positions.


ARTICLE IV Membership

2. Terms. The term of each member of the Advisory Council shall be three (3) years. (allowing for staggered initial terms of one, two, and three-year terms until all members are on a three-year term cycle). Members may serve after the expiration of their terms until their successors are appointed. The Advisory Council shall be made up of four members from each of the following categories: municipalities; educational and cultural institutions; environmental organizations; business and commercial entities, including those related to transportation, tourism and the maritime industry; Boston Harbor-related advocacy organizations; organizations representing Native American interests; and community groups.

CONSIDER changes: Strike parenthetical dealing with staggered terms. Change from four to three members from each of the following categories.