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Planning for Future Open Space

The Parcel Priority Plan is a long-term planning effort. We're prioritizing parcels of land to acquire and protect for public use.

Our goal is to enhance and enlarge Boston's network of resilient community parks. We have more information below about the Parcel Priority Plan, along with links to a survey to provide your own feedback.

About the plan

The City of Boston’s Open Space and Recreation Plan identifies three challenge areas:

  1. Equity
  2. Open space quality
  3. Climate resilience

Acquiring or protecting new open space properties can help address these challenges when complemented by capital improvements and stewardship.

The Parks Department's Parcel Priority Plan will prioritize potential parcels for acquisition or protection thanks to a combination of:

  • public input
  • data modeling, and
  • working with other City departments.

This is an essential first step in understanding where we have opportunities to expand open space during this time of significant development throughout the City.

The Parcel Priority Plan will also inform comprehensive planning efforts, like the Open Space and Recreation Plan update to be released in 2022.

Take our survey

We want to hear from you! Where would you like to see open space? What should we focus on when acquiring or protecting open space?

Your responses will shape the future of Boston's park system. We currently have a survey available in multiple languages and a virtual open house will go live in the coming weeks.

Common terms


In this context, acquisition is used to describe either:

  • the process of transferring ownership of a parcel to Parks and Recreation, and/or 
  • the process of creating open space on a parcel.

This term is used interchangeably with "parks". It can describe permanently protected and publicly accessible:

  • urban wilds and conservation lands
  • plazas
  • places with sports and other recreational opportunities
  • landscaped areas with seating

Vacant lots and buildings are not considered open space, nor are streets and sidewalks. For this planning effort, we want you to highlight important areas that should become open space.


Parcel is a real estate term describing an area of land owned by someone. There's an invisible line that denotes ownership and tax liability. This term is used interchangeably with "property." Often, multiple parcels can make up a park. For instance, Franklin Park is made up of a group of parcels that function as one continuous park. Sometimes only a portion of a parcel is devoted to a park.


Protection is a legal method to constrain types of development on a parcel, regardless of ownership, that conflict with its use as an open space. There are varying degrees of protection that affect:

  1. how long protection is in place, and
  2. what can happen on the parcel, and where.

The Parks and Recreation Department advocates for permanently protected and publicly accessible parcels. We want the public to have access to open space forever.