Community Featured Real Estate

Park at Sargent’s Wharf Proposed as Part of One Waterfront Initiative

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.

Flooding at Sargent’s Wharf parking lot in March 2018. (NEWF image)

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.

30 Replies to “Park at Sargent’s Wharf Proposed as Part of One Waterfront Initiative

  1. Boston wants people to come into the city and spend money, yet wants to take away the few paid parking spaces that there are? All this building going on in the city but with no additional parking? And before someone says there is the T, I know people can take the T, but the T at times can be inconvenient, depending on where you are coming from. And as we’ve seen in the past, it’s also unreliable.

      1. Thinking practically, where do you put the cars? Not to mention, as others have pointed out, it floods at times, which IMO makes a poor location for a park. If you want green space, you have a park two blocks down the street which does not flood, that has plenty of it.

  2. I live down the street and fully support turning this into a park. A park with grass and trees and which is also a buffer against flooding would be a great addition to the neighborhood.

      1. Yes, really. Boston should be actually built be for Bostonians and not suburbanites who drive in and expect easy parking.

        1. As long as it’s a park and not condos I live directly across you live down the street. I am born and raised here and nothing has been done to help those who made the North End what it is today except raise taxes. No one cares about the North End even though it us the Golden Cow they take every available space

    1. Kevin, if you live down the street then you know that Christopher Columbus park is about two blocks from Sargent’s Wharf.

  3. (Far) out there idea: I would love to see a pedestrian/bike bridge connecting Sargent’s Wharf to the unnamed wharf/lot by E Pier Drive in East Boston (see: The span would be about 1000′ (or <0.2 miles).

    I bet it would require overcoming several technical and jurisdictional hurdles, e.g., providing access to the Coast Guard base (a drawbridge?), but it would provide a meaningful, free connection between East Boston and downtown that would add some capacity to our strained transportation network. The bridge would also link to the Connect Historic Boston trail and the East Boston Greenway.

    1. Way too much boat traffic. Boats coming from the Charles, Mystic, Ctwon, Coast Guard, Boston Police all travel this path. Then think about the size of the LNG tankers that carry their cargo up the Mystic into Ctown. No chance. Additionally, there’s a big push that should start to take shape over the next couple summers providing cheap easy access via boat shuttle from numerous points along the inner harbor (NE, Ctwon, Eastie, Seaport). Lewis Mall pier in East Boston is one of those stops.

  4. I’ve been thinking about a related idea, but under rather than over the harbor. What if you could anchor 12′ diameter sections of clear pipe and create a pedestrian walkway to east Boston? The clear pipe would allow for experiencing all kinds of cool (giant ships passing overhead) and terrifying (dead bodies, etc.) things on the way over and back. LOL.

  5. We absolutely need this parking area. It’s almost always full of cars and contractors pick up trucks.these spaces cannot be lost however a 2 or 3 storied building that could supplement this need and the balance of the land could be a beautiful harbor front space that is built to protect the land from the harbors king tides.

    1. As long as it’s a park and not condos I live directly across you live down the street. I am born and raised here and nothing has been done to help those who made the North End what it is today except raise taxes. No one cares about the North End even though it us the Golden Cow they take every available space

  6. All for more green, but what every city needs is parking, mater of fact, they should put another level for parking on that site and surround it with trees, But still build a sea wall for protection. Green is very good , you build a park, your making a home for more homeless and some of them will bring drugs and there is already an increase in strange homeless people roaming the North End.

    1. If you think the current administration at City Hall will support more parking, you have not been paying attention. Not saying it’s not needed but….people who live in the city are becoming less and less car dependent. There’s a huge amount of city residents under the age of 30 who don’t even own a car (not a scientific survey, just my observation).

      This is why Walsh keeps pushing Baker, the T, et al for improvement to public transportation. He wants fewer cars in the city overall…both for residents and for visitors/workers.

      1. That’s not true have you noticed the holidays the streets are like a ghost town because all these young professionals go home to the parents for the holidays other than that the cars are parked on the street for days I know I’m born and raised here

        1. So long time residents always stay in the North End? They never leave for the holidays? Maybe they should branch out and live a little

  7. I’m not seeing where converting the parking area to a park makes the area resilient or safer. Seems that the elavated sea wall could support the parking area.

  8. KEVIN SAYS: Boston should be actually built be for Bostonians and not suburbanites who drive in and expect easy parking.
    SMARTY PANTS SAYS: Kevin, what the heck do you have to do with Boston “actually”? Nothing. It’s your address. That parking lot has a host of regulars, which means you do not squat if you don’t know that.

    A city isn’t built for its residents, not do they rise as such. Cities are always trying to attract people to them, not repel them. Today’s great cities serve the world. You sound like some NYU kid trying to be a New Yorker.

    Kevin, you are not a city person, because city people know the towns outside of the city are more Boston than Boston, and if you knew anything about metro areas or Boston at all, you’d know that people drive cars, and those cars have to go somewhere.

    Making parking ‘hard’ excludes people and makes the center of a city more provincial. This is a major problem in Europe right now. Who wants “hard”? That seems cool until you turn 29. Do you want hard? I want to make it hard for YOU to live in the city. I don’t want some idiot making Boston hard-er.

    If you want to be a true anything, stay true to yourself. You’re not holding the torch for Boston. True Bostonians want those spots, which are used by wallets and sellers and workers and visitors. However, when the lot is full, I hate it, too. Most of those people are walking right across the street and spending right in the North End. I know. I use that lot all the time. So I forgive them for using all the things that draw people into a city and make it work. Or else it’s, let’s go over Kevin’s apartment.

    In fact, most people I see look like people with some purpose attached to the city that is greater than some kid who wants a fantasy city that exists only in a dream.

    A buffer? You might want to look up this place called the Netherlands. It’s my ancestral home. They build dams. Your garden is a temporary buffer. Any park there would merely hold or delay flooding by absorption, but is not a sustainable, long-term solution. Not with the porosity and permeability rates of soil and sand. It sounds like you want a lot of parks, and people don’t come into cities for parks. We have a park interrupted by a city already. That is also globally known.

    Get off your bike, pull out your earbuds, and start living. When I park, I walk about 14 miles in Boston or New York on any given day. So you might have a limited view on both cities and your role in them.

    1. I am glad to have a spirited debate on the merits of parking versus parks. However, I shall refrain from ad hominem attacks and invite you to do the same.

      Yes, I prefer parks to parking. I am not an anti-car zealot; I have parked my personal car and have used Zipcars at Sargent Wharf. I have also parked at Lewis Wharf, underground at the Pilot House, and the lot by the Four Winds, all of which are close by. I have also parked on the street with a resident sticker.

      It is not true that people do not come into cities for parks. Have you been to Boston Common or the Public Garden lately? Both are filled with residents, tourists, and local visitors to the city.

      I don’t appreciate being lectured about Boston as if I am a student at NYU talking about NYC. All four of branches of my family have lived in Boston for over a century. With regard to this neighborhood, my great grandparents were married at St. Leonard’s, and I have lived in the North End for twenty years this April.

      Cities are not amusement parks; people actually live in them. The needs and desires of the residents should be paramount.

      I am not a kid and own neither a bike nor earbuds.

  9. Who would walk through a pipe tunnel underwater? It was fun in high school, but now I would not trust it, all things considered.

  10. They should build a parking garage solely for North End resident parking.

    If you give us 300-500 resident parking spots you could easily remove a few spots around the neighborhood for loading zones and what not. Less cars on the side of the road. Perfect plan.

  11. Why not build an underground garage with a park on top, raised to serve as a buffer against tidal flooding?

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