Once-underutilized Lowney Park has been converted in the last few months into a Peace Park, and advocates from the Charlestown Coalition will open the revamped space this coming Tuesday, with an unveiling, a march and an event.
“It’s all about finding light in darkness,” said Ginaya Greene-Murray, a Charlestown native and part of the Coalition. “The history of Charlestown is pretty dim. We want to brighten it up and create a place for people to heal and reflect. That will really add to the specialness of this park.”
The Peace Park was funded by a $2,700 Love Your Block grant from the City – one of only five given out last March citywide. The Coalition said there is so much pain bottled up from vicitms and families that experienced violence and drug overdose that a place for them was necessary.
That place became Lowney Park.
Police Commissioner William Evans said he is in full support of the park, and believes it is a great location.
“I can think of no better cause to dedicate a park to than the never-ending pursuit of peace in our neighborhoods,” he said. “I couldn’t be prouder or more impressed by the vision and efforts that went into turning this dream of a peace park into a reality…Our success as a department is undoubtedly measured by the level of safety felt by our citizens. The fact that community organizations like the Charlestown Coalition were moved to create a solemn, tranquil place where neighbors and friends can gather under a banner of peace is incredibly inspiring. I know I speak for all of my officers when I say I am excited, for not only what this park represents, but also for how it will be utilized in the years to come.”
The park didn’t come without controversy, though.
While the McGrath family supports the plan – as one of their relatives who was killed has a memorial in the park – some neighbors have protested the choices of color and aesthetics.
Greene-Murray said some of the choices – such as painting the fence gold instead of the traditional black – are risky, but are meant to show that this is a different space for a different purpose.
“I knew the gold would be risky, but it was different and you aren’t going to miss it,” she said. “It’s a better space now than before we got our hands on it. This park was dead and we brought it to life. That’s what we’re doing here. People are walking around Charlestown with pain and trauma and are dead inside. This allows them to connect with neighbors and others who have the same feelings, and perhaps they can heal here.”
Other facets of the park include a heart-shaped garden where there will be memory stones for those who have been victims of violence or overdose. Their names can be written on the rocks and placed in the garden. Some of the rocks will actually glow in the dark too, Greene-Murray said.
Sarah Coughlin of the Coalition said they will have an unveiling of the new park at 4:30 p.m. on June 26. Following that, they will have a march from the Park to the Knights of Columbus Hall – stopping at various points to place flowers at points where people have succumbed to violence or drug overdose.
At 7 p.m., an event will kick off at the Knights Hall, where they will have two keynote speakers, as well as food and music. One speaker will be the Rev. Ron Daley, a long-time Boston peace advocate who coordinated the first anti-gang march in Boston in the 1980s.