Parks and Open Space Needs and RecommendationsParks are the central feature of a “green city” and often the first connection residents make to environmental issues. Park use in every neighborhood of the city cuts across age, class, race, and cultural lines. Parks, like roads, serve everyone. Current urban green issues like locally grown food, bicycle expansion, and concern about climate change all stem from a movement that first became active caring about open space. Our city parks bring vibrancy, public health, youth engagement, economic enrichment and more to Boston. Public officials who care about parks are leaders who care about our quality of life. What do Boston’s parks need? Read the Keep, Implement, Dream for Boston Park Advocates recommendations submitted to the Environment, Energy & Open Space Transition Team for Mayor Marty Walsh. Over the last 25 years, playgrounds in every neighborhood have been rebuilt and ballfields are well-maintained for the huge network of youth and adult sports leagues. The city’s ParkARTS program brings concerts and other cultural activities to many parks. Yet more is always needed and parks are never static. Mayor Walsh, knows that parks and the environment are one of the most important features of a liveable city and matter to every Bostonian, regardless of age, race, income, or culture. As a Little League coach and someone who grew up playing in Boston's parks, Mayor Walsh recognizes their value. We have a huge opportunity in front of us: to use parks to increase physical activity and health, to employ greater numbers of teens in parks, to add parks and community gardens in underserved neighborhoods, and to enhance the tree cover and help mitigate climate change impacts.
- Park programs make parks vibrant and get people outdoors! Parks & Recreation Department funding for programs combined with increased outreach and marketing capacity will bring more people into the parks. Summer concerts, year-round & drop-in fitness and sports activities for all ages, nature walks, arts activities, and special events like kite festivals, edible plant walks, and children's activities are the way to get more people using parks.
- Youth engagement in parks – summer jobs, sports and social activities, outdoor adventures, and education about the natural world are great ways to improve health and impact learning. Youth employment needs to be seasonal, spring through fall, and schools need to be encouraged to align their science and other curricula with the opportunities that exist in the city’s larger parks.
- Public health opportunities – parks should play a significant role in helping Boston residents lose weight and become more active. To do this, parks need to be accessible from urban streets and have facilities, like well-maintained walking paths, exercise equipment, and easy to join programs.
- Planning will bring about better management. Boston’s parks suffer from not having current master or management plans, and a lack of coordination between city agencies and across park communities.
- Tree maintenance and planting are needed in parks and should be part of a coordinated citywide effort. While street and residential trees are critical, parks include many trees and woodland areas that help mitigate the impact of climate change.
- Permitting for parks is outdated. An on-line system for city park facilities with a map and calendar showing availability will streamline the permitting system and make it more transparent for city permit applicants. Stronger management of large park events will limit damage to the parkland and the impact on park neighborhoods.
- UPDATE! In line with our recommendations, in early 2017 the Parks and Recreation Department instituted an online permitting system. Visit it here.
- Vision: as in every area of city government, visionary leadership will uphold our reputation as a green city. On the local level, an environmental platform starts with parks and open space. From the famed Emerald Necklace to the newer East Boston Greenway, our celebrated parks deserve no less.