Meet Franco Campanello

Meet Franco Campanello!
People from all over the world marvel at our parks in Boston, and the Southwest Corridor Park is no exception. Every spring and then onward for the rest of the growing season, the park exhibits an exuberance of color, as though by magic!
Magic?… Well almost. Thanks to the untiring efforts of local hero Franco Campanello, our eyes feast upon this glory. Since 2006 Franco has served as President of the South West Corridor Park Conservancy (SWCPC) which covers half a mile of the corridor from Harcourt Street to Northampton Street. Not only does he organizes a group of volunteers who plant, clean, and weed, but also spearheads fund raising to cover costs of this all volunteer organization. Indeed, when Franco first took over the stewardship of this organization, it was in a different state, relying on minimal funds from PruPac (Prudential Project Advisory Committee), which were clearly inadequate for the mammoth task ahead. Franco, a former science teacher with a passion for horticulture had a vision and knew how to execute it. Four years of preparatory efforts led to a complete relaunch of the park with 80+ new trees planted (30 more are planned) and there is a continuing effort to increase the diversity of the plantings with more interesting trees, plants and bushes. Notice the extraordinary pines (particularly the yellow one between Wellington and Claremont), the diverse flora, and feel the sense of wonder and joy.

Three major projects currently in the works are restoring the Durham Street Oval, development of the Northampton Green (the Mary Longley Garden) and replacing fencing. Franco’s vision is to make the park worthy of this great city, equal in beauty to the Public Gardens and the Rose Kennedy Greenway.

Franco’s contributions to the South End do not end here. Having moved to Boston from Long Island in 1976, Franco and his partner founded Cafe Calypso in 1981, which later became Club Cafe on Columbus Ave. Then, with a couple of other partners, he ventured into the health club business, creating the Metropolitan Health Club in the building known as the Pledge of Allegiance building. The health club, like the cafe, was built to serve the South End’s LGBTQX community; both were rousing successes and are some of the last surviving businesses, that serve LGBTQX and continue to be in operations.

A man of many talents, Franco has also served as Chef de Concierge at the Marriott Copley Place, utilizing his excellent command of the Italian language with visiting Italian speakers. As Franco slowly moves towards retirement and decreases his time at the Marriott, he is increasing his time with the SWCPC.
So what may we, as a community do to nurture such heroes?
In addition to thanking Franco, whom we often see in the park with his dog Annie Too, we may be more considerate of the hard work that goes into this creation of beauty by keeping dogs from trampling the flower beds and refrain from doing anything that could jeopardize the plantings or the beauty of the park.
We wish to also thank the garden stewards who live beside the park, and many other volunteers including those from organizations such as Boston Cares, Marriott and Wayfair. Of equal, if not greater importance, we also offer our own time and financial contributions to help sustain SWCPC in perpetuity.  The link to the SWCPC is  

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