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Park named in honor of Justine Mee Liff, Boston's first female parks commissioner

Posted by Johanna Kaiser  April 9, 2013 11:51 AM

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TMM Liff Announcement2.jpg

(Photo by Don Harney/Courtesy Parks Department)

Mayor Thomas M. Menino announces the naming of a portion of the Emerald Necklace park system in memory of Justine Mee Liff during a ceremony at the Parkman House on April 4. Joining Menino are the late Parks Commissioner’s husband, Stephen, and daughter, Ursula.

Boston is honoring its first female Parks and Recreation commissioner by naming a portion of the Emerald Necklace after her.

Justine Mee Liff began working for the Boston Parks Department in 1987 as the director of planning and development before becoming Boston’s Parks and Recreation Commissioner in 1996. She served in that position until her death in 2002.

Now, Mayor Thomas M. Menino has announced that a portion of the Back Bay Fens will be named the Justine Mee Liff Park to honor her years of service.

“Justine Liff was dedicated to restoring Frederick Law Olmsted’s original vision of the Emerald Necklace and the flowing Muddy River,” Menino said at a ceremony announcing the naming attended by Liff’s family and open space advocates. “I can think of no better way to honor her dedication and love for these parks than to name this vital link in her memory.”

The area being named after Liff is located at the intersection of Park Drive, Brookline Avenue, and the Riverway and is often referred to as the “missing link” of the Emerald Necklace.

The parcel was covered by land for decades with a portion of the Muddy River channeled through underground pipes. The surface was later paved over for use as the Sears parking lot.

The site was returned to the city by developers and trees and grass were planted during Liff’s tenure, but the waterway has remained buried. The river will eventually be opened during the Muddy River Restoration Project that will uncover the Muddy River in the areas in front of the Landmark Center and between Brookline Avenue and Avenue Louis Pasteur.

“Justine’s dream is finally becoming a reality,” Menino said. “The ‘missing link’ will become a lovely park where the river will once again be visible to the public. It will be a fitting tribute to one of the greatest public servants I have even known.”

The Muddy River Restoration Project will also install 10- by 24-foot culverts to carry the Muddy River under the Riverway and Brookline Avenue; realign the traffic pattern around the Landmark Center and remove of the jug handle road.

E-mail Kaiser at Johanna.yourtown@gmail.com. For more news about your city, town, neighborhood, or campus, visit boston.com’s Your Town homepage.

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