The Trustees of Reservations managing director, Nick Black, presented the idea of a new park and open space in the North End at Sargent’s Wharf to the North End/Waterfront Residents Association (NEWRA) at the January meeting.
As part of the Trustees’ One Waterfront Initiative, the proposal explored the idea of converting the parking lot at Sargent’s Wharf into a public park as an attempt to expand open space along Boston’s waterfront. An area that has suffered from flooding in the past, the organization’s goal involves creating an accessible and resilient public space that combats climate change. The North End location follows efforts to site a spot in East Boston and the Seaport.
With no formal plan to present at the meeting, the Trustees aimed to gauge community interest in the project by gathering feedback. Currently owned by the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA), the parking lot generates a significant amount of revenue for the agency. The idea for converting Sargent’s Wharf into open space originated with the Mayor’s Office as part of their Resilient Boston Harbor plan.
Black discussed that resiliency plans for the potential park could involve an elevated seawall to protect the surrounding area from flooding as well as resilient plantings and salt-resistant building materials.
Due to the scarcity of parking in the area, concerns were raised regarding parkers who would be displaced if the 252 parking spots were to be converted into open space. Some suggested that the lot be partially converted into a park while preserving some parking spaces while others questioned the possibility of underground parking.
One resident pointed out the amount of revenue that the BPDA generates from the lot, suggesting that the agency may not have the incentive to allow the parcel to be converted at all.
Regarding a previous agreement for the parcel, another resident questioned whether the promise for affordable housing on the location was being discussed at all. Black admitted that he was aware that the parking lot was at one point intended to be a development site for affordable housing but did not know whether that was a possibility or not.
Several residents voiced their support for open space along the waterfront, expressing their desires for natural grass and tree canopy. Still in an exploratory phase, the Boston Waterfront Initiative for the Trustees of Reservation will also present their idea to the North End/Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC) on Monday, January 13th.