For more than a half century Mary Ellen Welch was the steward of social, political and environmental activism in the neighborhood.
Welch, a longtime community activist and school teacher, helped bring a neighborhood with the least amount of open space to a community with award-winning-sprawling parks and greenways.
Sadly, on Thursday, March 7 Eastie lost Welch after she battled an illness for several months.
However, there was one cause that was near and dear to Welch’s heart and now a movement is underway to have the Boston-owned section of the East Boston Greenway named after this neighborhood legend and icon.
At a community meeting last week Welch’s longtime friend and collaborator, Friends of the East Boston Greenway President Karen Maddalena announced the group’s intention to name the first section of the Greenway that was completed over two decades ago.
As one of the founding members of the Friends of the East Boston Greenway, Welch worked for decades to take a neglected stretch of the old Narrow Gauge Railroad and transform it into a system of lush landscaped park so residents could enjoy a stroll from Jeffries Point to Orient Heights.
At the Jeffries Point Neighborhood Association meeting Maddalena passed around a petition that was eagerly signed by those in attendance.
JPNA members then took at straw-poll on whether the group should write a letter in support.
The result was unanimous support.
Welch was one of a small group of Eastie residents who believed the trash filled, abandoned freight railroad tracks could become a welcoming, safe Greenway that would remove years of contamination in the midst of the neighborhood.
In the years that followed, the Greenway would become a beautiful green space for children to ride their bikes, seniors to stroll and residents to make connections through and across the neighborhood.
Once approved by the City of Boston, the section of the Greenway stretching from Marginal to Porter Street will bear Mary Ellen Welch’s name.
The Friends of the East Boston Greenway have also established the Mary Ellen Welch Memorial Fund to help raise money for future Greenway improvements and programs.
Ways of contributing to the Friends of East Boston Greenway are available on the contribute page of the website: https://eastbostongreenway.com/contribute/ or can be mailed to Mary Ellen Welch Greenway Memorial Fund, PO Box 74, East Boston, MA 02128.