Several friends, neighbors and colleagues gathered last Wednesday, May 26, to dedicate a bench to the late Bill Lamb – a long-time Charlestown resident who tragically passed in a boating accident last summer.
The memorial bench and bronze plaque in his honor are in City Square, a place where Lamb’s imprint will forever live and the spot where the renaissance of Charlestown likely began during the early days of the Central Artery/Tunnel (CA/T) project.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, and the suddenness and sadness of Lamb’s passing, no official remembrance was able to be scheduled. So it was last week that friends gathered in the space that was such a victory for Lamb and the neighborhood in general – both past, present and future.
Rich Johnston, a colleague and friend who served with Lamb in the early planning efforts of the CA/T, said it was Lamb’s idea to depress the Mystic/Tobin Bridge off-ramp under City Square and then have a park above it that re-connected the Town with its waterfront.
Johnston called it one of the greatest 20th Century neighborhood victories.
“As we all know, it was Bill who came up with the brilliant suggestion to depress part of the Tobin Bridge to run under City Square and allow Charlestown to reconnect with its waterfront,” wrote Johnston. “Without that idea — and without a massive political push which Bill helped lead to make the idea a reality — there probably would have much less of a Charlestown renaissance, there would have been no City Square Park, and we would not be celebrating one of the great urban neighborhood victories of the 20th century.”
Johnston said Lamb was always at planning meetings with a drawing and a logical argument, and it was his patience and perseverance that wore down the bureaucratic resistance to his vision.
“When social historians write about whether one person’s idea can galvanize a community and whether a galvanized community can convince government leaders to do the right thing against long odds, Bill’s role in these interconnected projects — the Central Artery North Area project and City Square Park — should be a textbook example,” wrote Johnston. “It is only fitting that he should be recognized in a permanent way here in the park.”