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.
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.
In 2018, the state's Department of Conservation and Recreation announced that a site by Oakdale Street on the Southwest Corridor Park was selected to become a dog park. That proposal never came to fruition, and it doesn't look like it's going to happen anytime soon. The Oakdale Street site was chosen after public meetings and the discussion of three proposed sites. At the time there seemed to be overwhelming support for a dog park in Jamaica Plain. Fast forward to 2020 and DCR got a new commissioner with Jim Montgomery, who performed a review and evaluation of many projects.
Sorry Jamaica Plain dog lovers -- you're going to have wait longer for an off-leash dog park. Back in 2018, DCR announced that a location by Oakdale Street, which is already used as a renegade dog park, would be the site of a large off-leash dog park. Since then no shovels have hit the ground, merely just renegade paws. That leads us to February 5, 2020, when Jim Montgomery was named the new commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Recreation. Montgomery decided to pause numerous proposed projects, including the Jamaica Plain dog park within the Southwest Corridor Park.
The state's Department of Conservation and Recreation is providing $50,000 on top of $25,000 from Converse and Wheels of Steel to renovate an existing skateboarding rink on the Southwest Corridor.
The rink is between the Green Street and Stonybrook MBTA stations and has makeshift skateboarding ramps. “I’m incredible grateful for the partnership between DCR, Converse, and Wheels of Steel, which will fund the much-needed renovation of an outdoor recreational space for our community’s youth and future generations to come,” said state Rep. Liz Malia (D-11th Suffolk). Every year, the DCR accepts applications from organizations to provide funds for park improvements that are matched by DCR. DCR doubled the combined $25,000 donation from Converse and Wheels of Steel, giving $50,000, for a total budget of $75,000. The project is expected to go out to bid this winter and DCR would like to start work during the spring.
After years of Jamaica Plain residents battling to get a dog park in the neighborhood, it looks like that dream will come to fruition -- and it's going to be an impressively big one, too! The dog park will eventually be built by Oakdale Street near the train tracks. and an initial proposal was for a 60,000 sq. ft. site.
Here's some gggrreat news for dog lovers! The Department of Conservation and Recreation will be presenting a proposal for an off-leash dog park near Anson Street in Jamaica Plain at a public meeting on April 5th. After a presentation, DCR officials would like to fetch receive feedback on the proposal. A DCR memo said the park is "part of an ongoing initiative by DCR to designate additional off-leash dog areas within state parks." DCR officials were scheduled to talk about a proposed off-leash dog park in Hyde Park on March 21st.
The 38th Annual Wake Up The Earth Festival runs noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 7. Here is a map of the live music, vendors and other events you'll experience. If you'd like to be in one of the parades leading to the festival, meet at 11 a.m. Saturday at any of the following three step-off points (yes, three this year!):
The Egleston YMCA, 3134 Washington St. Curtis Hall Community Center, 20 South St. Dudley Square Plaza, 2400 Washington St.