Mayor Walsh highlights investments in Boston's open space
October 11, 2017
As part of the national Walk to A Park campaign, which calls for all Americans to live within a 10-minute walk of a high-quality park or green space, Mayor Martin J. Walsh today celebrated Boston's success in establishing that 98 percent of Bostonians live within a 10 minute walk of a park, and reaffirmed the City of Boston's commitment to continue creating and maintaining high-quality parks that are accessible and equitable. The campaign is organized by The Trust for Public Land, National Recreation and Park Association and Urban Land Institute, and has the support of 127 mayors across the country.
"With over 2,300 acres of parks and open spaces, Boston has a rich history of working to provide high quality parks to all of our residents," said Mayor Walsh. "We know the benefits of having every one of our residents live within walking distance to a park, and we are proud to join cities around America to launch today's 10-Minute Walk campaign."
The mayors participating in the campaign are from all across the country and represent cities large and small, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston. The U.S. Conference of Mayors, which represents more than 1,000 U.S mayors, also unanimously passed a resolution at the 85th Annual Meeting urging all mayors to actively pursue the 10-minute walk to a park goal.
Last year, Mayor Walsh announced Parks First, a comprehensive initiative ensuring Boston's open spaces are among the nation's most accessible and equitable. To date, the Walsh Administration has increased the Parks Department's operating funding by $4.1 million or 23 percent, and has renovated 76 parks since 2014.
In recognizing the importance of creating parks that are inclusive in design, Mayor Walsh has created robust budgets for park renovations at Martin's Park in the Seaport and Smith Playground in Allston, both of which will be fully accessible to children of all ability levels.
Last week, Mayor Walsh joined Harvard President Drew Faust in the groundbreaking celebration on the $6.5 million public-private investment at Smith Field. The $6.5 million renovation will include improvements to the playground and sports fields, as well as the construction of walking paths, a splash pond, a street hockey court, and a spacious amphitheater which will allow for various performances throughout the year. Plans also call for increased opportunities to display public art and several street improvements along Western Avenue. The new amphitheater will be named after General George Casey, an Allston native and war hero who died while serving in Vietnam. The project is expected to be completed in the fall of 2018.
In August, Mayor Walsh joined Governor Baker and members of the Richard Family, Smith Family Foundation and Barr Foundation for the official groundbreaking for Martin's Park in the Seaport. The project honors Martin W. Richard, the youngest victim of the Boston Marathon bombings. When completed, the park will provide an inclusive space for children, families, and visitors of all abilities to learn, grow and play. Its central location will draw a high volume of residents and visitors and connect with the existing plaza at the Boston Children's Museum.
Other investments include:
- An investment in the 45 acre Harambee Park will include environmental improvements, pedestrian pathways, field renovations, a playground renovation and entrance improvements transforming Harambee into a premier example of community-led comprehensive planning.
- Mayor Walsh has committed $28 million from the sale of the Winthrop Square garage to augment the current historic levels of investment in Boston Common to fully renovate America's First Park. A major tourist destination, cultural beacon and neighborhood park, Boston Common is one of the most treasured green spaces in the world. This investment will ensure future generations will enjoy the park in its full vibrancy.
- In addition, Mayor Walsh has committed $28 million from the sale of the Winthrop Square garage for Franklin Park to fully renovate Boston's largest park, which borders multiple neighborhoods.
"Everyone deserves to have a park within a 10-minute walk," said Adrian Benepe, Senior Vice President and Director of City Park Development for The Trust for Public Land. "As our research shows, more than 100 million Americans currently don't have access to the countless benefits parks provide. These mayors deserve enormous credit for endorsing the 10-minute walk and supporting the principle that parks are a right, not a privilege -- and that everyone deserves access to high-quality public parks and open green spaces. I hope more mayors will sign on, and I encourage all citizens to urge their elected leaders to prioritize park access and quality."
Studies show that high-quality parks provide a wide range of benefits to urban residents and cities themselves. These include physical and mental health benefits, by providing opportunities to be physically active and to interact with nature; economic benefits by boosting business and helping to revitalize neighborhoods; community-building benefits by providing opportunities for neighbors to interact with each other and work together to improve their surroundings; and environmental benefits by cleaning and cooling the air, improving climate resilience, and providing opportunities for environmental education.
"On issues from climate change to infrastructure development, U.S. mayors have shown that cities can lead. Mayors aren't waiting on Washington; they are acting boldly and independently. Urban leaders have declared that parks are a priority, and mayors have joined together in this historic campaign to ensure that everyone has access to a high-quality park," said Barbara Tulipane, president and chief executive officer of the National Recreation and Park Association.
Imagine Boston 2030, Boston's first citywide plan in over 50 years, outlines a vision to create a vibrant open space network citywide by strengthening Franklin Park and the Boston Common as keystone parks for the city, and creating new open spaces along Boston's waterfront. More information on Imagine Boston 2030 can be found here.