Mayor Wu cuts the ribbon at newly renovated McConnell Park

Investments include $7.1 million for park upgrades and features to build climate resilience

Mayor Michelle Wu joined members of the US Army Corps of Engineers, elected officials, local youth sports leagues, park neighbors and families for the official unveiling of $7.1 million in upgrades to the McConnell Park in the Savin Hill neighborhood of Dorchester. Located at 30 Denny Street, McConnell Park is a popular 6.2-acre facility that dates back to 1899. The comprehensive park renovation includes the playground, grounds, passive spaces, parking, improved utilities and improving access.

Funding was provided through the Mayor’s Capital Improvement Plan supplemented by a $1 million grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. In addition to the complete renovation of sports facilities, the park has also been designed to implement climate-resilient measures due to its proximity to the port. These include elevated portions of the site, a granite block barrier wall that further extends the flood protection potential of the park, and parking islands designed to retain and infiltrate stormwater.

“I am thrilled to celebrate the opening of McConnell Park and unveil our high water mark signs,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “As we continue to work to make Boston the greenest city in the nation, we must do so with a focus on inclusion, access, and the communities that deserve and need space to thrive. fun, play and for families to be together.”

“I’m excited about the new and improved McConnell Park,” said Councilman Frank Baker. “This important investment is necessary for the future of our children. The renovation was intentional – keeping inclusion and climate resilience at the forefront of the design. As District 3 Councilman, I look forward to seeing this park used for many years to come.

“As the parent of a child with autism and chair of the Environmental Justice, Resilience and Parks Committee, I am thrilled to commemorate the opening of McConnell Park,” said Councilman Kendra Lara. “Incorporating accessibility, inclusion and environmental justice into the design of our parks brings us closer to a more resilient and inclusive city. Thanks to the leadership of our City, children of all abilities can now enjoy a clean and safe park in their neighborhood that is environmentally friendly and able to withstand the effects of climate change.

“I’m proud of how this design balances climate resilience with high-quality outdoor recreation and inclusive play,” said Ryan Woods, Boston Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner. “The park provides protection from infrequent but devastating floods, and neighbors can enjoy the site’s open skies, fresh air and sea views any day of the year.”

“McConnell Park was intentionally designed with climate preparedness at its core and includes resilient measures to support the community in the face of climate change,” said Dr. Alison Brizius, Commissioner of the Department of the Environment. “I am grateful to all of our intergovernmental partners and the wider community who have supported this park renovation and the creation of signs indicating the high water mark. »

Features include the new Little League pitch with a batting cage, drinking fountains and irrigation; a multipurpose softball field with ball net; a small soccer field in the outfield; and a Challenger ball field for inclusion leagues with a closer outfield fence and an accessible short-pile artificial turf field surface. All ball diamonds feature new LED lighting, bleachers and shaded dugouts.

“Growing up in Dorchester, the playing field and these fields were an integral part of everyday life,” said Mike Szkolka, a longtime Savin Hill resident who was actively involved in the project’s community design process during his presidency of the Columbia-Savin Hill Civic Association. “Many of my early memories and those of my friends were formed here, and it’s endlessly exciting that so many people can enjoy this space for decades to come.”

Other new amenities include an inclusive play area for children of all skill levels, including a roller table, cozy cocoon, slides and musical instruments; an accessible trail throughout the park leading to all adjoining grounds, playgrounds and streets; traffic calming strategies to slow cars on the driveway to the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) parking lot and the Dorchester Yacht Club; a plaza containing a relocated memorial stone and a new bronze plaque to commemorate Captain Joseph McConnell with an upcoming interpretive panel; and renovations on Springdale Street to clarify vehicular traffic and provide clear and safe pedestrian access.

McConnell Playground experienced extensive flooding in the fields and parking lot of two Nor’easters in early 2018. Stormwater spread across the park and into low areas of Butter’s backyards, flooding basements and properties. After these two coastal floods, the US Geological Survey identified and studied several elevations of the high water mark (HWM) in Boston. With support from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the city unveiled its first high water mark signs codifying these historic high water levels with informative and interactive signage, including a digital story mapwhich will improve flood risk awareness for a variety of users and audiences, and connect residents and visitors to the actions the City is taking to address these vulnerabilities.

“I would like to thank all of our Massachusetts Silver Jackets team partners, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service, and the Office for Coastal Management, United States Geological Survey, Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Conservation and Recreation and the City of Boston for their efforts to get us where we are,” said Sheila Warren, Silver Jackets Coordinator for the US Army Corps of Engineers, New England District. “We feel fortunate to have this great partnership to develop the High Water Marks program to raise awareness of flooding along the coastline.”

The grand opening of climate-ready McConnell Park reinforces the Wu administration’s commitment to protecting resilient open spaces in Boston. Recently, the city council approved Mayor Wu’s decision first draft budget which includes groundbreaking investments in Boston’s open space expansion. This includes $137 million in capital funding and operating investments to create and protect parks, tree canopy and open spaces in the city and $2.5 million for a new Climate Ready Streets program within of Boston ready for the climate.

Rufus T. Sifford