Open Space Acquisition Program
Our city is growing. More people mean we need more open space: parks, playgrounds, urban wilds. This program seeks to acquire properties to create these new open spaces for everyone.
Thanks to funding from Boston’s Community Preservation Act, the Parks Department has established the Open Space Acquisition Program. We hope to address areas of the City with little or no open space, or where more is needed. We want to protect valued cultural and natural sites for future generations.
We welcome you to suggest new open spaces for protection. As a first step, you can fill out our Open Space Acquisition suggestion form.
Have questions? Contact:
Open Space Acquisition Program
Open Space and Recreation Plan
Not sure who to talk to?
That's okay, reach out to any contact and we'll work together to respond to you.
The Open Space Acquisition Program uses planning tools like the Parcel Priority Plan 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.
The City has added more land to the public park system from nearly its beginnings. Expansion of the park system has been slow to keep up with increase in population and density from private development. In recent times, the City has rarely bought land for a growing population, or protected valuable natural resources.
A strong public park system relies on:
- renovating our existing park system with state-of-the-art designs that can better serve existing and new needs
- acquiring new parklands and natural areas to fill in gaps where there are no such spaces, or to enhance existing spaces in areas that are growing and putting extra pressure on existing open spaces, and
- increased funding for high quality park maintenance to match growing maintenance responsibilities.
The City's proactive program of open space land acquisition recognizes the importance of:
- increasing population and density
- environmental justice and equity
- losses of valuable natural areas to development, and
- mitigating excessive heat and flooding events as a result of a changing climate.
The City of Boston’s Open Space and Recreation Plan 2015-2021 stated:
Boston is a mature but rapidly growing city. If the rate of growth remains constant (the MAPC “Status Quo” Scenario – see page 3-32), the city’s population will grow by 3.7% by 2020 and by 7.6% by 2030. [Then] Mayor Walsh’s Housing Report (Housing and a Changing City, Boston 2030) projects a city population of 700,000 by 2030. To maintain our open space ratios as they are today (7.59 acres per 1,000 residents), the city would need to add another 173 acres of protected open space to our inventory by 2020, plus 451 additional acres by 2030. A city as built out as ours makes this level of acquisition particularly daunting.
The 2019 population estimate for Boston was 692,600 – a 12.1% increase in population. That almost doubles the MAPC Status Quo Scenario for 2030, but in only 10 years, not 20 years! Clearly adding more land for open space is needed to expand the supply to meet the demand, just as a project that will generate more cars needs to mitigate the impact by expanding the capacity of the affected road system.
This is an ongoing process. We welcome new input and have designed a form to use to make suggestions of properties (“parcels”) to acquire for future permanently protected open spaces. We look forward to public input using this form.
Make a suggestion
We want to hear from you! Do you know of a location where open space CAN be created?
Please complete our brief suggestion form. Have multiple locations in mind? Please submit a form for each location. You can also call or email with your ideas.
You can expect a response from our department within 30 days acknowledging your submission and identifying next steps.
Feel free to contact us after 30 days have passed if you have not heard from us.
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
- places with sports and other recreational opportunities, and
- 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:
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:
- how long protection is in place, and
- 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.
Healthy Places Boston
Explore what Boston is doing to:
- increase open space
- cool our neighborhoods, and
- protect Bostonians from the impacts of climate change.