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Planning for Future Parks

Planning for Future Parks identifies areas for park expansion. We're establishing a clear decision-making process for protecting or acquiring new parkland.

This page is under development. Please check back periodically for updates!

Our goal is to enhance and enlarge Boston's network of resilient community parks.

About

Our plans

Neighborhoods continue to develop and grow in density. The City wants to provide access to high quality parks throughout Boston that matches that growth. However, Boston had not had a broad, landscape-scale vision for parkland since Frederick Law Olmsted. The City aims to lay out a new vision that recognizes a fundamentally different landscape in terms of:

  • culture
  • environmental justice
  • climate change, and
  • development pressure.

Expanding the park system will rely on acquisition or protection by Parks and Recreation as well as other departments, state agencies, nonprofits, private landowners, and more. 

    A STRONG PUBLIC PARK SYSTEM RELIES ON:

    Renovating our existing park system to better serve existing and new needs

    Acquiring or protecting new parklands and natural areas to:

    • fill in gaps where there are no such spaces, or
    • enhance existing spaces where there is growing population pressure

    Increased funding for high-quality park maintenance to match growing maintenance responsibilities

    Open Space Acquisition Program

    About the program

    The Parks Department has established the Open Space Acquisition Program to proactively acquire land. The program uses planning tools, like the Parcel Priority Plan. The goal is to understand the fit of potential candidate sites with Boston's overall vision for the park system. With initial funding from the Community Preservation Act, we can begin to negotiate the purchase of land for future open spaces in a timely manner.

    Sites may be:
    • donated to the Boston Parks and Recreation Department
    • purchased from a property owner, or
    • transferred to Boston Parks from another City department.

    Learn more about the program and suggest a site:

    explore the program

    What can I do?

    1. Suggest a location for consideration.
    2. Check out the Office of Housing's Grassroots and Open Space development program.
    3. Participate in the budgeting process. The annual budgeting process is where funding for the fiscal year is set. The fiscal year begins on July 1 and public hearings typically happen around April-June. If you would like to learn more about the budget, visit How the Budget Works
    4. Explore the Boston Planning and Development Agency's neighborhood planning initiatives.
    5. Reach out to a local community group or property owner to discuss establishing a park or ask how you might support an existing community-run park. 

    Common terms

    ACQUISITION:

    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.
    LAND TRUST:

    Non-profit organizations that manage and/or own land. Land trusts often specialize in housing or parkland. Conservation land trusts sometimes own parks and community gardens or aid in land protection by holding conservation restrictions for the permanent protection of properties. Land trusts are a great resource for learning more about community-led park creation.

    OPEN SPACE:

    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:

    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:

    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.

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