In Partnership with the Barr Foundation
Across the greater Boston area, there are thousands of people who are creating and supporting new greenways and parks as a vital ingredient in happier, healthier communities. In 2019, our partners rolled up their sleeves and put their imaginations to work. We are excited and proud to share some of those stories.
At the beginning of the year, we asked how we could broaden our network of partners and support more communities and organizations with the tools to plan, design, and advocate for funding for greenway and park projects. We asked how we could build momentum and buy-in for a network of high-quality, accessible, inter-connected pathways.
In this review, we’ll show you how our collective dreams fueled new efforts, broke through long standing barriers, and forged new partnerships. We’ll tell the stories of our partners who work tirelessly everyday.
Our mission is to kickstart projects by providing planning support and funding to help Greater Boston communities build and enhance connections and access to the region’s parks and greenways so everyone has access to high quality greenspaces.
2019 has been a year of increasing momentum. With the support of the Barr Foundation and grants from MassTrails and other sources, we’ve been able to expand our work connecting dense, urban communities to green space. We’ve grown our investments in local projects and brought on our second staff member, Allison Burson, as program manager. With her help, we’ve been able to develop new partnerships and better support our partners who show their commitment – each and every day – to reimagine the possible.
With immense gratitude to each of our partners, I invite you to explore in this year-in-review some of the important projects that it has been our honor to support this year.
Herb Nolan, Executive Director
Everyone in the Greater Boston region should have safe and easy access to an interconnected system of well-loved and well-cared for parks and greenways that enhance the health and well-being of people and the environment.
In 2019, we expanded our work to partner with:
In 2019, we invested:
in Design and Feasibility Studies
in organizations that provide leadership creating greenways
in Early Stage Planning, Design, and Project Work
In 2019, these grants leveraged $15.7 million in federal, state, and municipal funds.
2019 Project Details
- Pony Truss
- Swampscott Rail Trail phase one
- Northern Strand Community Path rail trail section
- Farm Pond Connectivity
- Route 30 Gap between Weston and Newton
- Charles River Lakes District Loop
- Birmingham Parkway
- Edgewater Greenway
- Bruce Freeman Sudbury/Framingham section
- Upper Mystic Lakes Connections
- North River Corridor connections Peabody and Salem
- Herter Park
- Quinobequin Road paths and connections
Read About a Few of our 2019 Highlights
Riverside Greenway Network
A Shared Vision Across Boundaries
The Riverside Greenway Working Group, founded in 2016 with help from the Solomon Foundation, began with a focused goal of opening up access to two abandoned railroad bridges across I-95. This committed group has since expanded its thinking to embrace a greenway network linking Waltham, Weston, and Newton. This year they coordinated with multiple state agencies (MassDOT, MBTA and DCR), the City of Newton, and a local developer with the shared goals of:
- Building a new pedestrian bridge across the Charles River (MassDOT)
- Transforming a section of the Commonwealth Ave Carriageway into a greenway trail
- Reclaiming the historic Pigeon Hill trail to Riverside Park
- Restoring a closed pedestrian tunnel under the railroad tracks
- Building the east side ramp to the two railroad bridges
- Fully designing the railroad bridges and their approaches
- Building the Pond Truss Path
So far, funding has come from MassDOT, MassTrails, Newton Community Preservation, the City of Newton, Mark Development, and the Solomon Foundation. Thousands of volunteer hours have been spent to coordinate and advance this extraordinary new greenway system unlocking access along the Charles River.
Northern Strand Community Trail
Doing the Heavy Lifting
Full design for the ten-mile rail trail section of the Northern Strand Community Path was completed this year by Brown, Richardson, and Rowe, and a contract was awarded to the Zoppo Corporation for construction. This is being fully funded and managed by the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. Construction is scheduled to start in Lynn this spring and will continue on to Everett, Malden, Revere, and Saugus. The design of the final on-street section of the Northern Strand Community Path in Lynn, which will connect the end of the rail trail to downtown Lynn and east to Lynn Shore Reservation, was based on a master plan and parking study sponsored by the foundation. By spring of 2020, 25% design should be completed. This final on-street portion of the project made it onto the TIP (Transportation Improvement Program) for federal funding. If all goes without a hitch, it could be under construction by 2024.
Updating Olmsted for the 21st Century
The Charlesgate Park, a critical link in the Emerald Necklace that was buried under highways in the mid 20th century, will soon reconnect the Back Bay Fens to the Charles River. This is a critically important north-south greenway link in Greater Boston. With leadership from the State House, the Mass. Department of Transportation, the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, and the citizen-led Charlesgate Alliance, the Charlesgate parklands and roadways are being reimagined and redesigned. While park advocates are focusing on dog parks, playgrounds, shoreline restoration, and paths on the southern part of the site, the Mass. Department of Transportation is redesigning all of the circulation, drainage, and parkland systems in the northern half of the site adjacent to the Charlies River. These two overlapping efforts will complement each other and utterly transform the area within a few years. The Landing Studio – an award winning design firm lead by Dan and Marie Adams – is leading much of the conceptual design work. A Boston CPA grant of $400,000 combined with a state legislative allocation has fully funded design of the parkland south of Beacon Street. Movie nights and other programmed events are keeping the public eye on the Charlesgate during this critical design phase.
Farm Pond Connectivity
Connecting Downtown Framingham to Farm Pond
In partnership with the City of Framingham and state elected officials, we are working with MassDOT, MBTA, and MWRA to overcome barriers and connect downtown Framingham to Farm Pond.
Farm Pond is a 150-acre pond within 1500 feet of the historic downtown, but it has been cut off for generations by a freight railroad line, resulting in safety and public health challenges in what is now the back yard to the growing city. We are working to reverse this relationship so that Farm Pond and the parks adjacent to it become an accessible “front yard“ for the city. The goal is to bring the park to the edge of the city and make it visible to the growing downtown residential and business community.
To date, we’ve begun a conceptual design diagram and cost estimate, framing access and historic preservation options for consideration.
Connecting Peabody and Salem along the East Coast Greenway
Linking City Centers Along the North River Corridor
At a meeting organized by MAPC and the East Coast Greenway Alliance with planners on the North Shore to discuss critical greenway links in the region, the opportunity to connect downtown Peabody and downtown Salem along the tidal North River was identified. New housing is being built quickly along North River Corridor, a formerly industrial area with old mill buildings along a rail corridor. This year, we’ve been supporting the capable planning staff in Peabody and Salem to fund a conceptual design and alternatives study for this critical piece of the East Coast Greenway. A designer, Weston and Sampson, was selected in the fall and planning has begun with a kick-off meeting.
Thanks to our great partners in state and local government, our elected representatives, and to the community of non-profit advocates and local leaders who have helped raise awareness, we have been able to advance several major public/private greenways initiatives. Most of the credit for these accomplishments goes to our friends in government agencies who manage most of the lands and parkways where we have been active and to our civic leaders and non-profit partners who advocate so tirelessly and effectively.