This week, Boston Children's Hospital unveiled its new rooftop garden. The space contains a small patch of grass, paved walkways, tables and chairs, and some potted plants. It may be a nice space, but it lacks nearly everything a therapeutic healing garden should contain.
This afternoon, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Janet L. Sanders will hear arguments on two closely-related motions filed by the Ten Taxpayer Group comprising Friends of the Prouty Garden in its pending lawsuit against Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) and state public health officials. With the parties’ legal briefs already on file with the court, this will essentially be the hearing on the merits of the Prouty Garden court case.
In addition to violating Condition 8 of the DoN, the lawsuit alleges that the hospital began construction activities associated with the new tower without written approval from DPH of preliminary and final architectural plans, as required by state law, and that BCH failed to implement a plan for communicating the status of the expansion project to community groups, as required by another DoN condition.
The Prouty Garden at Boston Children’s Hospital was such a treasure and during the week of this year’s Earth Day, it provided a fragmentary piece of evidence testifying to its deep value. The tree, symbolically, and perhaps in a true and real spiritual sense, drew in the worst of those fears and the deepest of despair and gave back hope and confirmation that there is more to our existence than just our physiological well-being. Love, courage, faith, compassion, hope, patience, endurance and a myriad of other qualities play a far greater role in determining whether we live a “good life” or not. The Prouty Garden was a place where one could go to confirm that truth every day.
Today news broke that our Ten Taxpayer Group is suing the state over the state's refusal to provide documents requested under the Public Records Law. The legal team has reason to believe the there may be a connection between the state's approval of the hospital's plan and the hospital's participation in a new pilot program around the same time. “(My clients) want the integrity of (state’s approval process) upheld,” McGregor said. “They want the agency to review under its jurisdiction the project with no exceptions, and… this is designed to daylight how this went down. We’ll see what the facts lead to.”
We have received multiple eyewitness reports this week that the hospital is persisting in its destruction efforts. Spending money on this ill-considered project is a very risky move for the hospital with the core civil complaint under review by the Superior Court. Should the court rule against the hospital on any of the multiple failures of the DoN process that the Ten Taxpayer Group has identified in its complaint, the hospital could be facing untold significant costs to undo work that it has undertaken thus far.
In December, the Friends of the Prouty Garden lost the Dawn Redwood and Caitlin. But our court case goes forward and so do we. The hospital wanted to make us feel like there was nothing left fighting for by cutting down that tree. But in our view, the land is worth protecting, the ground is still hallowed ground, and the potential for a new Prouty Garden that remains large and immersive and on the ground, a true healing garden, this possibility is still worth fighting for.
There are a small number of people behind SaveProuty.org and the Friends of the Prouty Garden, some of whom you may know, others who stay quiet out of fear. Caitlin has always been vocal and public in her efforts, and without a doubt she has been one of the most central and integral parts of this fight, truly instrumental. Caitlin is fighting for her life in Pittsburgh right now. She is desperately in need of a lung transplant. So we ask you to send prayers of love and healing and most importantly right now, prayers for lungs, so that she may be transplanted as soon as possible.
The Friends of the Prouty Garden today condemned actions by the administration of Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH), which on Saturday, December 3, cut down a 60-year-old Dawn Redwood tree in the hospital’s Prouty Garden, beginning in earnest the destruction of the nationally-recognized healing garden to make way for the most expensive hospital expansion project in Massachusetts history. The group will continue to pursue the hospital in court, contending that, among other issues, the state process that allowed the BCH project to move forward was deeply flawed.
The Prouty Garden is officially closed. The sanctuary is no longer available to those who need it. Here is a full update on where our legal effort stands right now. We urge our supporters not to lose faith. The situation is bleak, but our effort has always been a story of “David fighting Goliath." We stand with numerous experts, both inside and outside the hospital who have condemned the hospital’s planned course of action. We remain optimistic that we can prevail in this effort “on the merits."
On Wednesday, Judge Salinger declined to grant our request for a preliminary injunction, which would have effectively stopped any action by the hospital to proceed with construction or with the destruction of the Prouty Garden. The hospital has officially closed the garden and is planning to begin using it as a staging area for the construction project. This is especially disheartening coming just before the holidays, a time when so many at the hospital need the privacy and escape that only the Prouty Garden provides. But there are more steps to take and our effort goes on!
Supporters of the Prouty Garden yesterday filed for an immediate injunction to halt the closing and destruction of the Garden, as Boston Children’s Hospital threatens to move ahead with its massive $1 billion expansion project. The injunction request will be heard Wednesday, November 23, at 11 am in Suffolk Superior Court Room 817.
Here is the perfect example of how NOT to honor a sacred garden. If BCH was so concerned with honor, they might start with honoring their promise to Olive Higgins Prouty that the garden would remain "As long as there are patients, families and staff to enjoy it." Our hearts break for the young patients wandering the garden today who have to read these signs.
The Boston Business Journal recently conducted an informal web poll asking the public, "Do you think Boston Children's should be able to build a new clinical building on top of the beloved Prouty Garden?" The results were overwhelmingly in Prouty Garden's favor with 84 percent of respondents saying, "No. The garden is a sacred space and there are places for Children's to build."
"The people of the state of Massachusetts have not been fully heard regarding this matter, and that is a very sad result of politics and administrators constructing a picture of just what they want the public to believe. What I witnessed on 10/20/2016 was a drastically different picture. A rather large group of newscasters seemed extremely interested in what Friends of Prouty Garden had to say in front of the statehouse’s gold dome beaming with sunlight." So writes Prouty Garden supporter Deana Tavares on her blog.
Thomas Farragher has a powerful column in today's Boston Globe. Please go read it right away, comment and share it with your friends who care about this issue. His column begins, "Those loud cheers you heard along Longwood Avenue this week were coming from the corporate suite inside Boston Children’s Hospital. What a pity. It didn’t have to be this way"