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$500,000 state grant will help fund park improvements in Dorchester

The Boston Parks and Recreation Department has announced that Walsh Playground at 1005 Washington Street in Dorchester will receive $500,000 as part of $13 million in grant funding recently announced by the Healey-Driscoll Administration. The grants, administered through the state’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs’ Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) grant program, are used to help municipalities acquire, develop, or renovate land for park and outdoor recreation purposes. 

walsh rendering
At the final community meeting on December 5, 2023, two options were presented in the above renderings. Incorporating community feedback, the design team is currently working on a final concept plan that includes one softball field on the Washington Street side. This field will be a premier competition field with a home run fence and a scoreboard.

“This investment will be instrumental in transforming Walsh Playground into a more inclusive and vibrant space for an environmental justice community in our City,” said Boston Parks and Recreation Commissioner Ryan Woods. "We are grateful for this grant from our partners in the Healey-Driscoll Administration.” 

Community engagement for Walsh Playground began in 2023 and involved outreach to abutters, athletic permit holders, and park users through three virtual meetings and a popup event held in person. Notably, the process successfully addressed safety concerns from the community by removing a backstop at the bottom of a popular sledding hill. Upgrading the softball field to support recreational opportunities for women and girls was another community priority. The final design for the field will include a home run fence, team benches, and a scoreboard, creating a premier competition softball field. Construction is expected to commence in late summer and must be completed by late spring 2025, as per the grant requirements.

The budget for renovations at Walsh Playground is $3.1 million, including the grant amount. The park spans over 6.95 acres, featuring a playground, basketball and tennis courts, a ballfield, and a wooded area. The PARC grant will be used to upgrade the basketball and tennis courts, install a universally accessible playground, improve the park entrance, create a lighted walking loop, and plant several dozen new trees and prune existing ones. Aligned with the PARC grant's climate adaptation focus and Mayor Wu's Green New Deal for Boston, the Walsh Playground renovation will include water play areas and shaded spots to improve conditions for residents during extreme heat.

“Actively investing in open space projects will make our parks more resilient and adaptable to climate change while providing quality and accessible open spaces in environmental justice communities,” said Governor Maura Healey. “We are dedicated to supporting green infrastructure investments in partnership with municipalities and land trusts. These funds will provide beautiful open spaces for residents to enjoy and recreate across Massachusetts.”  

The PARC Grant Program was created in 1977 to aid cities and towns in acquiring and developing land for parks and outdoor recreation. To qualify, communities must have an up-to-date Open Space and Recreation Plan. The program is a part of the Healey Administration's goal of offering recreational opportunities for all Massachusetts residents and adapting to climate change, creating a more resilient Commonwealth. 

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