With the first section of the East Boston Greenway Connector open, the East Boston Greenway Council is planning an official ribbon cutting on section from Bremen Street Park to Wood Island Bay Marsh on Thursday, August 21 at 5:30 p.m.
This section of the Greenway Connector, built by Massport, opened for public use two weeks ago and the new path connects from Frankfort and Lovell Streets just beyond Bremen Street Park to a scenic vista at the Wood Island Bay Marsh, three-quarter miles away.
Since the opening, the Massachusetts Legislature filed language in the Transportation Bond Bill to hand over ownership of the Connector, that will eventually extend from Bremen Street Park to Constitution Beach, to Massport.
Once the Boston section is completed, Massport will take over ownership, security and maintenance of the Connector. The Port Authority has similar oversight of Piers Park and the Bremen Street Park.
The language would allow Eastie’s PiersPAC, the community group that oversees Massport parks in the community, to have oversight of Massport’s security and maintenance agreement.
“This legislation requires Massport to hold the new Greenway extension to the same standards of security and maintenance as Piers Park and Bremen Street Park,” said Senator Anthony Petruccelli. “I want to congratulate Chris Marchi and the rest of our community activists for spearheading this initiative and I want to thank Massport CEO Tom Glynn for his cooperation in this process.”
Representative Carlo Basile said, “I fought to make sure this provision was in the Bond Bill because we need more open and green spaces in East Boston, but we also need to make sure those parks are maintained. We really need to see projects like this through to make sure that we don’t end up with parks that the City doesn’t have the resources to maintain. This is the same process we used for the Bremen Street Park and today that park is beautiful, well-maintained and welcoming.”
While the Massport section of the East Boston Greenway Connector is completed, residents are still waiting for the Boston section that will connect the Massport section to Constitution Beach.
The Boston Redevelopment Authority has explained that the Boston section of connector is complicated because it is a multi-agency project that involves the city to get easements from both the MBTA and DCR.
The BRA confirmed there is spending in place for this project and it is a high priority project.
However, one problem the BRA has encountered is that before the city takes over ownership of the parcels involved from the MBTA and DCR it needs to be properly surveyed. This has been delayed by the weather over the past several months.
Members of the Greenway Council plan to have two ribbon cuttings, the first on the Massport completed section at the end of the month and hopefully a second when the Boston section is done in late fall. The members agreed that would not be a significant problem but were disappointed the whole connector would not be completed simultaneously.
In 2011 Massport’s Board voted to approve the community and city’s request to use a small stretch of Massport owned property that use to be part of the famed Wood Island Park in order to connect the Bremen Street Park with a greenway path that will extend to Constitution Beach.
Allison Richard of Richardson & Roe Architects’ preliminary plans for the extension shows a 12ft.-wide multi-use path for walking, bike riding and rollerblading as well as a 10ft. vinyl-clad fence that will separate the path from the abutting MBTA Blue Line.
The path will extend from the Bremen Street Park and end at Constitution Beach.
The city and Massport cut the ribbon on the greenway extension in November 2012.
Greenway proponents spearheaded by community activists like Chris Marchi and Gail Miller, in return for support for a Bus Depot at Logan, had spent two year fighting for the right to use a 25 ft. corridor between the proposed Logan Bus Depot and the community as a way to connect Bremen Street Park to Constitution Beach. This would once and for all connect waterfront parks in the southern part of the neighborhood with parks and airport edge buffers in the northern part of Eastie. This will allow for one continuous park system and allow adults and children to ride their bikes, jog, rollerblade or take part in other leisurely activities without being dependent on busy neighborhood streets like Bennington Street.
At the request of then Mayor Thomas Menino and elected officials, a collaborative effort was developed between Massport and staff from city agencies to assess pathway design options that will address public safety, airport security and community access to their open space resources.
This work ultimately lead to the Massport Board’s vote to approve the community’s plans.