Special to the Patriot-Bridge
The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) Board of directors approved the purchase of the Charlestown Peace Park to support new investments in the space, which includes a portion of the parcel between Lowney Way, Mt. Vernon Street, and Prospect Street in Charlestown. In March 2021, The City of Boston awarded the Charlestown Coalition, in conjunction with the Charlestown Preservation Society, a Community Preservation Award of $500,000 as an opportunity to fully design and build a renovated park to bring infrastructural improvements, new park furniture, and new plantings to the Peace Park. The parcel is currently owned by MassDOT, but due to constraints around types of construction that can occur on MassDOT property, the BPDA has acquired the land to facilitate this project for the neighborhood, with the ultimate goal of transferring the land to the Boston Parks and Recreation Department once construction is complete.
“We’re happy to enable this project which will improve access to the park, beautify the space, add plantings, and overall further the original community vision for this land,” said BPDA Director of Real Estate Rebecca Hansen. “It is great that we can use our unique position as a landowner to make this vision a reality, and we look forward to seeing how the park evolves over time.”
The Peace Park was originally dedicated to the late Robert McGrath, a beloved Charlestown resident who was tragically the victim of community violence 30 years ago. In 2019, a group of neighbors and community members made necessary improvements to the Peace Park, including new plant beds, repairs to park furniture, and repainting fences.
“I want to thank all those involved in The Peace Park process from The Charlestown Coalition and Preservation Society up to our government partners at MassDOT and the BPDA,” said Representative Daniel Ryan. “This arrangement will allow the renovation and beautification of a plot of land into a peaceful urban respite. A site dedicated to Robert McGrath, a proud public servant, this park will serve as a space for quiet reflection for all.”
The Charlestown Coalition youth program, Turn It Around, began regularly picking up litter, raking leaves, planting flowers, and leading ongoing maintenance to improve the site. In 2020, the Turn It Around program was awarded a Love Your Block grant for $2,700 from the City of Boston, enabling them to hold several events on the site. These events included painting stones in the name of loved ones lost to violence, holding a Peace Walk in the neighborhood that started and ended at the Peace Park, and incorporating plaques with quotes about peace on the benches. The idea originally emerged during a PLAN: Charlestown engagement event.
“As members of the Coalition, alongside the dedicated Friends of the Peace Park Non-Profit, we believe that completing this project could be the culmination of our efforts in Charlestown. It’s about integrating all facets of the community into a shared space that enables us to grow and evolve together,” said Melanie Soto of the Charlestown Coalition. “This space aims to reach individuals who may not have previously considered our small park, but who can contribute to the future we are trying to nurture. This isn’t just our park; it’s an endeavor rooted in showing the community that we welcome them to this space without invitation or judgment.”
The Capital Construction team within the BPDA’s Real Estate Department will oversee all aspects of construction in order to deliver a finished site to the Parks Department.