The Boston City Council will be holding a public hearing on Wednesday, 11/14, 12:00PM (Boston City Hall, 5th FL) to provide residents and stakeholders a forum to share their views regarding Hempfest / Freedom Rally.

You are encouraged to attend the hearing to share your opinions and experiences.  You can also submit your comment letters to City Councilor Matt O’Malley, Chair, Committee on Environment, Sustainability, and Parks (matthew.omalley@boston.gov).

As discussed at previous meetings, the Association has been advocating for a less disruptive, more respectful Freedom Rally (formerly Hempfest).  There have been many reports from area residents and stakeholders on the significant negative impacts to the Boston Common as a result of this three-day event.  This year’s event was no exception.  As Mayor Walsh recently stated, “As a city, we take tremendous pride in our public spaces, and the conditions we saw in the aftermath of this weekend’s Boston Freedom Rally…are both appalling and unacceptable.”  Councilors Flynn and Zakim have also provided leadership on this issue and have called for a public hearing to discuss the impact and future of this event.  Councilor Flynn offered the following assessment:

“I called for this hearing with Councilor Zakim because I represent the neighborhoods of  Downtown Boston, Chinatown, parts of Beacon Hill, Back Bay, Bay Village. I received calls and messages from my constituents and the Friends of the Public Garden expressing concerns regarding the Freedom Rally.  Residents, and associations there, relayed to me reports of parked cars on green space, camping in the park, leaving trash, used needles in the park after the event. I think it wholly appropriate to look into what’s taken place at the most recent event and come up with a plan that works for everybody. In the final analysis, the Boston Common is one of the oldest public spaces in the country. It is one of the most beautiful parks in the country and I want it to remain that way for everyone – including children, seniors, the disabled, residents in the area, families in the city and tourists. I’m focused on what needs to be done to make sure our park remains beautiful and accessible. It also must be safe and environmentally healthy. These are my strongest concerns for our Boston Common. We must work closely with the neighborhood and City Hall to protect those unique qualities.”