A “Parks and Open Spaces Committee” has been set up by the North End/Waterfront Residents’ Association. Co-chairs Anne Pistorio and David Kubiak arranged for the first meeting on January 21, 2010, which was surprisingly well-attended.
Anne Pistorio distributed a fact-filled packet of information and started the meeting with the following quote:
“We want a ground to which people may easily go when the day’s work is done, and where they may stroll for an hour, seeing, hearing and feeling nothing of the bustle and jar of the streets, where they shall in effect, find the city put far away from them.” — Frederick Law Olmsted, 1870
The Committee’s overall mission is to help ensure the sustainability of the North End/Waterfront as a residential neighborhood by promoting and protecting parks and open spaces that meet the neighborhood’s needs and are accessible, well-maintained and safe.
- Information, education and community outreach
- Neighborhood advocacy
- Coordination with agencies responsible for our open spaces
- Coordination with other neighborhoods on city-wide parks and open space agendas
- Direct action to protect or improve our parks and public spaces
An initial discussion centered on the need for such a committee. The co-chairs believe that other neighborhood committees such as NEWRA’s Clean Streets and NEWNC’s Public Safety have mobilized and focused resources to address neighborhood issues. The Parks Committee would look to perform a similar function toward improving the residential nature of the neighborhood’s open spaces.
The committee intends to communicate and work with several public and private groups including:
- Department of Conservation and Recreation
- City of Boston Department of Parks and Recreation
- Massachusetts Department of Transportation
- Greenway Conservancy
- Friends of Christopher Columbus Park
- North End Athletic Association
- The Boston Harbor Association
The committee’s coverage area is in downtown Boston bounded by Surface Road, Blackstone Street, up to 20 Rowes Wharf no further than Keaney Square and North Washington Street, and bound by the water.
Anne Pistorio said she would like the committee to be the “eyes and ears” of the parks. In this spirit, Daniel Toscano, resident and attorney, said he would like to see more attention paid to “The Gassy” (DiFilipo Park) which is often dirty, dilapidated and littered with dog waste. He also noted that Pupolo Park along the harbor was recently renovated, but already has worn out rubber under the swings.
The committee is making an inventory of parks in the neighborhood. The North End has 15.6 acres of protected open spaces, 4.2 acres of unprotected public open spaces for a total of 20.2 acres of parks and open spaces. This includes the Greenway and ranks in the middle of other central Boston neighborhoods.
Some interesting notes:
- Copps Hill Cemetery is 351 years old
- Prior to 1885, there was no open space in the North End
- The first playground in the United States was on Parmenter St. in back of what is the North End Union. It was called the Sand Garden.
Some initial goals for the Committee:
- Create a map flyer highlighting the neighborhood’s parks and open spaces
- Recognize the old North End Beach and Ball fields, perhaps with a sign to recognize the North End Beach Park, 1892 by the Firm of Olmsted, Olmsted and Eliot
- Copps Hill – parts of the fence has been ripped off over the years. The Committee would like to pursue a grant to fix it.
- Bring attention to areas in desperate need of attention, particularly “The Gassy’ (DiFilipo Park).
Friends of Christopher Columbus Park – The FOCCP has open meetings at 6:30 pm on the 2nd Tuesday of the month at the Mariner’s House, 11 North Square. (More information at www.foccp.org.) Participants noted the success of the FOCCP and would like to invite a representative to a future meeting.
Rose F. Kennedy Greenway Parks – The newest parks in the neighborhood are the North End and Wharf District Greenway parks. Francine Gannon and Donna Freni attended the meeting as representatives of the Greenway Leadership Council. There was a discussion on several Greenway issues discussed recently at public meetings, including how the committee can work with the Conservancy and GLC. Caitlyn, a North End resident, questioned the committee’s interest in the Greenway parks and events. Notably, the committee is interested in how the Conservancy will hold commercial events on the parks and pursue projects such as the “Urban Nursery.” I noted the pending document, yet to be approved, that describes the Use and Event Guidelines for the Greenway. GLC representatives said there would be upcoming Greenway meetings in the neighborhood. (The next Greenway Conservancy meeting is February 2nd, 9am, 185 Kneeland St. More information is available at their website schedule.)