Piers Park Phase III Project Receives $2M in Federal Funding

The Piers Park Phase III project being spearheaded by the Trustees of Reservations (The Trustees) officially received $2M in cash from the federal government.

At a ceremony last Thursday at the current Piers Park, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey joined U.S. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley to celebrate the $2M earmark for the East Boston waterfront park project. The money was secured in the US Senate and House through the Congressional Directed Spending (CDS) federal funding bill that was recently signed by President Joe Biden.

“I’m proud to work with my colleagues to bring tens of millions to Massachusetts to grow community-based projects that serve our families, businesses, and cities and towns every day,” said U.S. Senator Markey. “Bringing a world-class, climate resilient park to the environmental justice community of East Boston will strengthen our resiliency and our economy, while ensuring that locals can access public green space.”

After several community workshops and information gathered through an online survey, the Trustees and Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc., released the newest design of Piers Park III at a Community Design Review meeting last month.

These new design elements gathered through public feedback courtesy of Eastie residents includes less open water in favor of larger and more accessible  landscapes.

The new design maintains unique and exceptional public access to the water with an additional access point to the uplands area of the park while preserving the site’s maritime history.

The new design also adds more areas for habitats and robust ecological zones within the park such as a tidal pool and salt marsh.

“After several decades and billions of dollars, Boston Harbor has been transformed from one of the dirtiest harbors in the country to one of the cleanest. And while there is still work to be done, the harbor is now a safe and beautiful destination for everyone in the commonwealth. But let’s be clear: accessing the harbor is still challenging for many of Boston’s residents,” said U.S. Senator Warren. “That’s particularly true for the people who live right here in this East Boston community. For far too long, Eastie has shouldered a disproportionate share of pollution and the impact of climate change. This park is an important step toward righting this wrong.”

Congresswoman Pressley added, “These federal resources will help initiate, strengthen, and expand community-based projects that serve our families and communities every day. This world-class waterfront park, designed in close partnership with the environmental justice community of East Boston—will provide a resilient outdoor green space for all to enjoy. I’m proud to have helped deliver these resources and look forward to seeing these critical projects move forward.”

Three years ago, the Trustees of Reservations submitted the only bid to Massport’s call for a private/public partner to come forward and help fund the design and construction of Piers Park Phase III.

The dilapidated pier is adjacent to Massport’s award winning Piers Park and the future Piers Park Phase II project.

The Trustees of Reservations operate 120 miles of protected coastline, which includes over 60 miles of trails, and a bunch of beaches and all sorts of other natural habitats in the state.

Massport has been working with the community and other stakeholders over the last two to three years to build out Piers Park Phase II. It was around this time the Trustees of Reservations started having conversations with Massport about their waterfront initiative.

Since being designated, the Trustees Boston Waterfront Initiative team has increased community outreach and engagement to gather feedback on the Piers Park III design and future programming opportunities in the park.

“We are grateful to Senator Warren, Senator Markey, and Congresswoman Pressley for their leadership in advocating for these funds, which bring us closer to creating an iconic public space on Boston’s Harbor,” said Trustees President and CEO John Judge. “Protecting outdoor spaces for everyone is at the heart of our mission—and the reason behind our founding in Boston 130 years ago. Free and open to the public, Piers Park III will be a welcoming and resilient space, for generations to come.”

The $2M will contribute to the construction of the park – an estimated $35 to $40M project that is being funded largely  through philanthropic contributions The Trustees is raising from a mix of private individuals, foundations and  corporations. To date, $28.5M has been committed to build Piers Park III.

Throughout the community process Eastie residents indicated a desire for better integration with neighboring Phases I and II of Piers Park.

Altogether, Piers Park Phases I, II, and III will provide 14.5 acres of public open space – a landscape more than twice the size of Christopher Columbus Park in Boston’s North End.

“The updated design for Piers Park III features open green lawns with stunning views of the Boston skyline, a kayak launch, tidal pools, and marine and upland habitats,” noted Nick Black, Managing Director for The Trustees Boston Waterfront Initiative. “This park will offer unique and exceptional public access to the water, something frequently requested during public outreach. We are grateful to Senators Warren and Markey and Congresswoman Pressley for this significant funding, and look forward to bringing a world-class, equitable space to the people of East Boston and beyond.”

Senators may request CDS funding for projects in their state each fiscal year, and a small number of proposals are  awarded. In requesting the funds for Piers Park III, Senators Warren and Markey noted the future park’s strategic design  to buffer East Boston from flooding events and urban heat island effects.

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