Press Release Issued Sept. 14, 2017
Somerville, MA - We’ve seen major transformations along the Mystic River in the last several years – from the 45-acre mixed-use development at Assembly Row in Somerville, to Medford’s Station Landing and to Wynn Boston Harbor’s major site remediation in Everett, debuting in 2019. With these new developments have come improved access to the river and redesigned park spaces, complete with overlooks, benches and in some cases, playgrounds. Now it is time to connect to and enhance existing park spaces, such as Somerville’s Blessing of the Bay Park on Shore Drive.
Through funding from Somerville’s Community Preservation Act, the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) in partnership with the Department of Conservation (DCR) and Groundwork Somerville will create a comprehensive, community-driven redesign for Blessing of the Bay Park on the Mystic River. To kick-off the project, please plan on attending the Mystic River Park and Paddle Event on Saturday, September 23rd at 10:00 a.m. Participants will learn about and give ideas for the Blessing of the Bay Park redesign and can rent a canoe or kayak for one hour for free, courtesy of Paddle Boston who operates out of the Blessing of the Bay Boathouse. For more information and to register (required) go to www.MysticRiver.org.
“This underutilized park has enormous opportunity. Somerville has only one mile of waterfront access – Blessing of the Bay Park makes up a third of that shoreline and is within a 5-minute walk for nearly 3,000 people. This space has the potential to become a vibrant waterfront park that serves the local community and draws regional visitors,” said Amber Christoffersen, Greenways Director at the Mystic River Watershed Association.
The Blessing of the Bay Park is important open space in Somerville and part of the Mystic River Reservation – a 10 mile, 370-acre linear park system. Community feedback over the years has revealed that this 5 acre park is underutilized due to an unwelcoming layout, limited views and access to the river's edge, and lack of awareness of existing programming. If designed to serve the needs and interests of local communities, this park could see use-levels and status of nearby parks like the Esplanade on the Charles River.
With the input of residents and stakeholders, the comprehensive revitalization plan will identify the physical features, natural areas, programming and amenities needed to transform this park into one that supports recreation, active transportation, and ecological health. Over the next 4-6 months, the project team will be hearing needs and ideas through online and in-person surveys and interviews, design workshops and on-site events.
As part of the redesign, MyRWA, DCR and Groundwork Somerville will select a landscape architecture and engineering firm to produce a park plan that details new amenities, plantings and features that connect people to the river. This project builds off of the 2009 Mystic River Master Plan (Dept. of Conservation and Recreation) and the 2016 Healy Mystic Master Plan (Friends of the Healy School and Groundwork Somerville).
A new park redesign will be released in Spring 2018 – check out our project webpage for updates and ways to get involved!