The crumbling Prado public square in the North End, known formally as Paul Revere Mall, is getting some long overdue funding for capital improvements.
In its Fiscal Year 2017 budget, the Boston Parks and Recreation Department has budgeted $1.9 million for Prado park improvements, including “site furnishings, pathways, landscaping and utilities.” Restoration work on the fountain and Paul Revere equestrian monument are also part of the funding.
In addition to the budgeted work at the Prado / Paul Revere Mall, Rachel Revere Square is set to receive a significant amount to reconstruct the plaza, play area and pathways. This work will coincide with the Public Works project in North Square.
Cutillo Playground basketball courts are included in the annual courts renovation program. Also in the budget, separate from the park improvements, the Public Facilities Department will begin a study of siting a new community center in the North End.
The Prado / Paul Revere Mall restoration money is coming from an unexpected windfall as the result of a surplus in the snow removal budget, thanks to the mild 2015/2016 winter. The winter budget was set high following the harsh 2014/2015 season, leaving millions for various parks projects throughout the city. In total, about $8.7 million is budgeted in parks for North End capital improvements over 4 years.
Old North Church Vicar and Foundation Executive Director, Stephen T. Ayres passed on the good news via the Boston parks FY17 budget. Old North abuts the Prado, both on Boston’s Freedom Trail, and has complemented the city’s past maintenance efforts for the public square. Old North Church itself is gearing up for a major renovation in preparation for its 300th anniversary in 2023.
The North End / Waterfront Residents’ Association (NEWRA) has also been actively promoting investment in the Mall in order to restore the physical integrity of the space to Arthur Shurcliff’s original design and to see a revitalization of the park as both a historical monument and a beautiful open space for neighborhood and visitor gathering and reflection. The group’s efforts started back in 2012 with a celebration of Cyrus Dallin’s equestrian statue of Paul Revere and a series of lectures on the Prado. [See The Prado: It’s History and Future by David A. Kubiak]
Last summer, NEWRA’s Parks Committee led a process to summarize the capital needs of the Prado. Chair Robyn Reed coordinated with Boston Parks Commissioner Chris Cook enabling city planners to do a preliminary needs assessment estimating as much as $10 million may be needed to fix things properly.
City Councilor Sal LaMattina now chairs the Parks Committee for the Boston City Council and recently met with NEWRA’s committee. The Prado, along with many historical sites in the North End and Boston, will take center stage in 2025 as part of Revolution250, celebrating the 250th Anniversary of the American Revolution.