Featured Health & Environment Meetings

Open Space Ideas Discussed for Sargent’s Wharf [Video]

Nick Black, Managing Director of the Boston Waterfront Initiative for the Trustees, led a discussion on a new proposal to create a park or public open space at Sargent’s Wharf in the North End at the January North End / Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC) 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 climate resilient, green spaces along Boston’s waterfront. The idea for converting Sargent’s Wharf into open space originated with the Mayor’s Office as part of their Resilient Boston Harbor plan.

Sargent’s Wharf, an active parking lot in the neighborhood, sees a lot of flooding during high tides and storms such as the bomb cyclone in January 2018. The parcel is owned by the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA), and the Trustees has been talking with them, as well as with neighborhood residents, about creating more open space in the North End on this wharf.

The Trustees wanted to come to the community early to gather feedback, ideas, and concerns. Black emphasized that, if this does come to fruition, it will need to be a collaborative effort with the neighborhood.

Questions from the council begin at 5:41.

NEWNC President Brett Roman asked Black what he thinks would work at Sargent’s Wharf. Black said the 2-acre parcel is pretty large in comparison to other available space along the waterfront and that this is a great opportunity to preserve space for public use. Black spoke about working with landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh who designed the Brooklyn Bridge Park and Martin’s Park in the Seaport.

Black emphasized that they are looking at resiliency in two ways – protecting the neighborhood, and also creating a resilient space itself that can be inundated with water and, when it recedes, the landscape will still be in place.

(9:31) NEWNC council member Tania Green shared ideas for the park. Comparing it to a mini esplanade, she suggested a place for yoga, an outdoor cafe, a mini Hatch Shell / place for concerts, kayaking, and/or hammocks.

(11:32) NEWNC Vice President John Pregmon asked if the idea would be a hybrid that still has some parking. Black replied that there would have to be discussions over how much parking would be removed. He said a subterranean lot could be a suggestion, but that would be very expensive.

(12:54) One attendee asked about surge barriers between the Harbor Islands and the city. Black spoke about the UMass Boston study on barriers that was done a few years ago. That study had determined it would be very expensive.

(14:07) Roman asked if the park would need to be elevated. Black agreed that yes, there would be some elevation, most likely closer to the back. The various design elements would be determined when the city does the Climate Ready North End study, in which they’ll do a projection of mean tides for the future.

Roman also suggested a portion of the parcel could be a dog park, but to keep that separated from another area that could be open grass for kids to play sports.

Visit onewaterfront.thetrustees.org to learn more about the Trustees and other projects they have worked on in the city.

Black also presented at the January North End / Waterfront Residents’ Association (NEWRA) meeting. Watch that video here.