Special to the Journal
Seeking to expand recreational opportunities for the public, the Baker-Polito Administration celebrated the official opening of a newly constructed park in the City of Lynn between Spencer Street and Cottage Street. As part of the celebration, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Theoharides joined with state and local official, and others for a ribbon cutting event to mark the opening of the park, which was built as part of the larger Northern Strand Trail project that is being completed through the Baker-Polito Administration’s MassTrails Initiative.
“Since coming into office, our Administration has made investment in public parks a critical priority, and we have worked hard to increase the availability of open space and support greater access to outdoor recreation for Massachusetts residents, especially in our Gateway Cities and Environmental Justice communities,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We’re pleased to partner with the City of Lynn to support the construction of this park, which builds on our larger investment in the long-distance Northern Strand trail and provides a wonderful new recreational asset for children and families throughout the region.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic made clear just how essential the outdoors is to the health and well-being of residents across the Commonwealth, which makes the construction of new parks like this so important to our communities,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “This newly constructed park will provide a terrific new community space for the residents of Lynn and users of the Northern Strand, and allow residents to enjoy safe, fun outdoor recreation with their friends and family.”
The park’s elements, which were identified by residents of the City of Lynn as part of the public design process, include:
• A slide, climbing structure, zip line, and other playground equipment;
• A plaza for events; and,
• Many raised community garden beds.
As the former railroad right of way on which the Northern Strand Trail is being constructed is very wide, the City of Lynn and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) took advantage of the space to create the public park, which cost approximately $1.8 million to design and build. Additionally, the park was designed by landscape architects Brown, Richardson, and Rowe, with engineering assistance from Stantec, and built by the R. Zoppo Construction company.
“Turning this space into a new neighborhood park is a terrific outcome local children and families in Lynn, and will offer a new community area that can be used for events, neighborhood gatherings, and for community gardening,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “Residents across the Commonwealth have expressed enthusiasm and joy in their local parks and a strong desire to get outside throughout the pandemic, and the Baker-Polito Administration is committed to making greater investments in our parks, open spaces, and long-distance trails through the priorities set by Governor Baker in his American Rescue Plan spending proposal.”
“The official opening of the Lynn portion of the Northern Strand Community Path has certainly been a long time coming and it is a great opportunity to be able to gather to celebrate and honor many stakeholders and advocates of this project who have played a part in making this tremendous asset for our community, a reality,” said Mayor Thomas M. McGee. “A special thank you to the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, our State Delegation, City Council, DPW, Community Development, Community Path of Lynn Coalition, Bike to the Sea, and so many others for their vision, coordination, and advocacy for this transformative project.”
“Thank you to all of the community members along with state and local officials who have worked tirelessly for many years to make this transformative project a reality,” said Senator Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn). “This community path and park are enjoyed by people of all ages and all walks of life. I look forward to continuing our work with the City and Baker administration to build on the success of this project and increase even more access for our residents.”
“This neighborhood park is a great addition to the Northern Strand Trail project and the city of Lynn,” said Representative Peter Capano (D-Lynn). “Children and families in the community will be able utilize this park for recreation, gardening, and events for years to come. I’d like to extend a big thanks to the Baker Administration, state and local officials, Lisa Wallace and the Community Path Coalition for making this project possible.”
The investment in the park and the Northern Strand shared use path was made by the EEA’s Gateway City Parks Program. The funding was provided in support of the Baker-Polito Administration’s MassTrails Initiative, which is working to realize a network of trails across the Commonwealth. The Northern Strand project is a direct result of the interagency MassTrails Team’s “one team, one plan, one vision” approach to advancing multi-use trails. When completed in the spring of 2022, the section of the Northern Strand that is currently under construction will span ten miles and run through the communities of Everett, Lynn, Malden, Revere, and Saugus along the rail bed of the former Saugus Branch Railroad. The Gateway City Parks Program, through which EEA paid for the park and trail, is a flexible program, providing municipal officials in the 26 eligible communities with funding for all phases of park and trail development, including acquisition, design and construction of parks, greenways, and other recreational facilities.
In October 2021, the Baker-Polito Administration announced its commitment to completing the design, permitting and construction of the Mystic River Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge. The bridge project, once constructed, will provide a connection from Draw Seven Park near the MBTA Assembly Station in the City of Somerville to the City of Everett next to the Encore Boston Harbor Resort, enhancing mobility and access for residents while linking communities within the Northern Strand and Mystic River trail network
In September 2021, the Baker-Polito Administration awarded $10 million in grant funding for park improvements, open space acquisitions, and land conservation projects in 37 Massachusetts communities and six conservation districts. Since 2015, the Commonwealth has awarded 243 grants to cities and towns through the Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC), Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (LAND), and other community investment programs, which assist communities and non-profit organizations in creating or restoring parks and acquiring land for conservation to expand open space and recreational assets for the public to enjoy in perpetuity. Working with municipalities, land trusts, and other partners, Commonwealth has, over the last seven years, created or restored more than 165 parks and conserved and protected more than 78,000 acres or about 122 square miles – an area about the equivalent of Boston, Cambridge, Chelsea, Lynn and Lawrence combined.
In June 2021, the Baker-Polito Administration re-filed its plan to immediately put to use part of Commonwealth’s direct federal aid from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to support key priorities including housing and homeownership, economic development and local downtowns, job training and workforce development, health care, and infrastructure. As part of the Administration’s proposal to jump-start the Commonwealth’s economic recovery and support residents hardest-hit by COVID-19, such as lower-wage workers and communities of color, Governor Baker would direct $900 million to key energy and environmental initiatives, including $100 million for parks, recreation, and open spaces. These funds would support investments in public lands, as well as lands specifically conserved for public access including parks, lakes, rivers, trails, beaches, fishing piers, boat ramps, and other waterways. Funding would be dedicated to projects that expand, enhance, and modernize the Commonwealth’s park facilities to steward and conserve natural resources, and to improve the resilience of natural and working lands, plants, and wildlife in the Commonwealth.