By John Lynds
Last Thursday following his annual coffee hour, Mayor Martin Walsh, flanked by the LoPresti Family, cut the ribbon on the completed LoPresti Park along East Boston waterfront on Sumner Street. The park is named after former East Boston State Senator Michael LoPresti.
The long awaited rehab to the park included the park’s basketball courts, play areas and entrance. In 2014 the artificial turf field that is part of grant from U.S. Soccer Foundation was installed.
“I want to thank the friends of LoPresti Park for their work because this is a beautiful place and beautiful park and it is the strong advocacy from groups like them that keep places like this great,” Walsh said.
Features of the renovated waterfront park include a new artificial turf soccer field with lighting, new basketball courts with lighting, a splash pad, a new play area with adult exercise equipment funded by the Trust for Public Land, renovation of the park’s section of the Harborwalk, water access area for personal craft, a picnic grove with a ping-pong table, and salt-tolerant plantings.
Walsh said the park design capitalized on the spectacular views at the site by aligning the entries and pathways with the existing street grid. The community process emphasized how important basketball was to the neighborhood, and how much people valued being able to be in a park on the water. Shade is critically important on this site and over 100 trees were planted. A variety of spaces were created for people to spend time in the park from a sunning lawn with views to downtown Boston and Charlestown, to picnic tables, park benches, and lounge chairs.
In early 2013, Environmental Affairs Secretary (EEA) Rick Sullivan announced a $400,000 Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) grant to help make improvements to LoPresti Park.
A few months later it was announced that an additional $250,000 in grant money from the U.S. Soccer Foundation would help to help offset the $4.4 million needed to rehab the waterfront park.
The U.S. Soccer Foundation’s $250,000 grant was used in Phase 1 of the project with an additional $400,000 provided for the second phase by the PARC grant. The City’s Capital Improvement Program funded the balance of the $4.4 million park rehabilitation project.