Long-vacant City of Boston parcel transformed into a beautiful community gathering space
BOSTON – Tuesday, June 22, 2021 – Mayor Kim Janey today joined Chief of Housing and Director of Neighborhood Development Sheila Dillon, Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space Reverend Mariama White-Hammond, Boston Parks and Recreation Commissioner Ryan Woods, the Boston Planning & Development Agency, the Friends of West 2nd Street Park, the South Boston Neighborhood Development Corporation, local residents, and urban gardeners to celebrate the grand opening of West 2nd Street Park and Community Garden, located at 175 West 2nd Street in South Boston.
Formerly a vacant lot, the 16,000 square feet of new park and community garden space includes both active and passive areas along with design features such as a patio area, trees, benches, flower containers, and 21 community garden plots providing shared amenities like compost bins and a tool shed. Three of the plots are raised beds, reserved for gardeners with accessibility needs. A total of 31 new trees have been added to Boston’s urban canopy as a result of the project.
“Creating community green spaces provides great physical activity, increases access to affordable healthy fresh produce, and brings the residents of our neighborhoods closer together,” said Mayor Janey. “I want to thank our partners here today for helping us create this beautiful new community space in the heart of South Boston.”
The celebration marked the completion of the new park and community garden funded by a community benefits contribution from Breakthrough Properties as part of Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) project approval for the 105 West 1st Street development, as well as a joint contract between the Parks and Recreation Department and Department of Neighborhood Development for the design phase of the project.
The community engagement process began in 2015, when the Public Works Department transferred the property to the Department of Neighborhood Development (DND) to discuss development options for the parcel. South Boston residents voiced a strong preference for the site to be a public green space. The South Boston community, the Department of Neighborhood Development, and the Parks Department partnered to hold community design workshops, eventually producing a project plan and scope of work for the site. With neighborhood support, the Parks Commission voted on June 7 to add the property to its inventory for long-term ownership, with the provision that the Friends of West 2nd Street Park and the South Boston Neighborhood Development Corporation would be responsible for site maintenance.
“It’s been a long journey to get here that required the effort of many people, elected officials, City of Boston staff, and South Boston residents,” said South Boston Activist Gary Murad. “We are so excited to be reaching the finish line and adding a piece to what we consider our own little emerald necklace connecting this new park with Flaherty Park and A Street Park. Hopefully, we will get additional open space as community benefits connected with future development projects in the area that add to our South Boston Necklace.”
“All of us at the South Boston Neighborhood Development Corporation are thrilled to see the community’s enthusiasm for gardening these new plots in this beautiful park,” said Donna Brown, Executive Director. “We look forward to working with new and experienced gardeners to grow food and enjoy this beautiful park. Our team is grateful to the City of Boston and Breakthrough Properties for making this incredible green space possible for our neighbors in South Boston.”
Today’s ribbon cutting at the West 2nd Street Park and Community Garden aligns with DND’s Grassroots Open Space Program, which helps communities start community gardens, urban farms, food forests, and other open spaces on public and private land. The project is also part of the Parks Department’s Open Space and Recreation Plan, focusing on access, equity, and excellence—so that every neighborhood is home to beautiful spaces that serve both people and the environment. Additionally, the City’s Food Access Agenda supports the creation of community gardens to advance equitable access to nutritious food with respect to affordability, physical accessibility, and cultural connectedness.
ABOUT THE DEPARTMENT OF NEIGHBORHOOD DEVELOPMENT
The Department of Neighborhood Development (DND) is responsible for housing homeless Bostonians, developing affordable housing, and ensuring that renters and homeowners can find, maintain, and stay in their homes. As part of the ongoing coronavirus response, the Office of Housing Stability is conducting tenant’s rights workshops to educate residents about the eviction moratorium and their rights. The Boston Home Center continues to provide down payment assistance to first-time homebuyers and home repairs for seniors and low-income residents. The Supportive Housing Division is working with various partners around the city to rapidly house individuals who are experiencing homelessness. Click the link to learn more about Our Work at DND.
ABOUT THE PARKS AND RECREATION DEPARTMENT
The Parks and Recreation Department creates and maintains clean, green, safe, and accessible public parks and open space throughout Boston. The department is responsible for 217 parks, playgrounds and athletic fields, two golf courses, 65 squares, 17 fountains, 75 game courts, 16 historic and three active cemeteries, urban wilds, four High School athletic fields, and approximately 125,000 trees, all covering 2,346 acres, 1,000 of which comprise the historic Emerald Necklace. Parks and Recreation is also responsible for more than 35,000 street trees.