The following is an open letter to elected and appointed officials and park friends with numerous originators who wrote the letter, followed by organizations that signed onto support the letter. Representatives for the Arborway Coalition, Emerald Necklace Conservancy, Southwest Corridor Park Management Advisory Committee, and more signed the letter. Massachusetts state parks are in crisis. More than a decade of funding and staffing cuts have eviscerated the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s (DCR) ability to meet its mission “to protect, promote and enhance our common wealth of natural, cultural and recreational resources for the well-being of all,” while digging a $1.0 billion deferred
maintenance hole. The December 2021 Legislative Special Commission report on DCR (p.51) found that Massachusetts, one of the wealthiest states in the nation, nevertheless ranks last in per capita spending on state and municipal parks.
On Wednesday, the Department of Conservation and Recreation announced there would be two weeks of rolling closures of the Southwest Corridor Park Bike Path starting Aug. 18. But then DCR was reminded by the public that the Orange Line is being shutdown for a month starting Aug. 19, and DCR reconsidered its plan and opted for just three days of rolling closures. The closure comes as a shock to many considering the city and MBTA have highlighted the Southwest Corridor Park Bike Path as an alternative for transportation during the Orange Line shutdown.
The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) will present plans for Amory Park in a public virtual meeting on Feb. 24. At the meeting, DCR's project team will provide plans for Amory Park, at the intersection of Amory and Boylston streets. The plan is for an improved entrance to the Southwest Corridor Park, which is state-run, to create universally accessible pathways that connect city sidewalks and existing park pathways. Work will also include implementing landscape improvements such as new native species plantings.
The acting commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Recreation recently announced that due to public feedback they've been working on a fourth design alternative for the Arborway Parkways Improvement Project. In a letter addressed to stakeholders, Acting Commissioner Stephanie Cooper said the new alternative design won't be provided until an as of yet unannounced mid-January meeting. Currently there are two traffic rotaries: Kelley Circle by Jamaica Pond and Murray Circle on Centre Street by the Arnold Arboretum. One proposal would keep both circles, one would remove Kelley Circle, and one would remove both circles. DCR announced three alternative design plans to update the Arborway in November 2020.
There are a total of 16 playgrounds in Jamaica Plain managed by either Massachusetts' Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) or the Boston Parks and Recreation Department. So how accessible are all of them? The 16 playgrounds have varied features including age-based play structures, splash pads, spray decks, athletic fields, swings, a sandbox, and more. Currently, DCR is assessing opportunities to make improvements at their agency-managed playgrounds across the Commonwealth. In Jamaica Plain, DCR manages nine sites that include playgrounds, spray decks, benches, gardens, and sport courts.