Among the plans Boston Mayor Marty Walsh laid out at his second State of the City address Tuesday evening was a push for the construction and expansion of parks using six acres of land across the city.
The investment comes at a time when the “parks budget is the biggest in Boston’s history,’’ Walsh said. The city plans to create or expand six parks using property that other agencies have conveyed to the Parks Department, Samantha Ornsby, Walsh’s associate press secretary, told Boston.com in an email.
The announcement was welcome news to George Bachrach, president of The Environmental league of Massachusetts.
“Over the last 20 years, we have lost a tremendous amount of protected park land to development,’’ Bachrach told Boston.com. “Every community thinks it can dispose of an acre here or an acre there, but in the aggregate, we’re losing our parks.’’
The Department of Neighborhood Development will oversee three of the spaces, including a one-acre park on Geneva Avenue in Dorchester, a 6,000 square-foot addition to the Children’s Park in Roxbury, and a three-acre park near Egleston Square.
The Conservation Commission is taking on the Puddingstone Garden Park in Mattapan, which will include a half-acre addition, while the Boston Redevelopment Authority will oversee the smallest of the six: a 4,500 square-foot space in the South End at Watson Park. Private developers contracted through the BRA will work on a South Boston Park on A street that fill around 1.6 acres, Ornsby said.
In the address, Walsh also said $1 million would be invested to revamp Ramsay Park — the beginning of a $2 million renovation. The money will fund construction of a new playground, increased safety lighting, upgrades to the pathways, and a playing court renovation.
Walsh emphasized the need to address safety concerns in his speech — a problem many have brought up about Ramsay Park.
“In the past few years there has been a lot of negative activity that has taken place in this park,’’ Ornsby said.
Recently, local youth groups met with Walsh to advocate for park improvements, spurring the renovation, Ornsby said. Northeastern University, Boston police, the Parks Department, and Washington Gateway Main Street, a nonprofit that promotes economic growth in the South End and Lower Roxbury, are continuing to provide positive programming in the park in efforts to push out crime while the renovation takes place.
In addition to the new parks, Walsh also announced that playgrounds would be made increasingly accessible for those with disabilities.
“We’re going to ensure that America’s first public parks are America’s best, and—inspired by the Martin Richard Playground being built next to the Children’s Museum—America’s most inclusive public parks as well,’’ he said in his address.
This would include adding equipment and seating that “exceeds what is minimally required’’ to comply with ADA standards, Ornsby said.
Ornsby did not provide a budget or timeline for the projects.
Bachrach said that Walsh’s efforts to address the loss of parks and open spaces will positively impact the communities where they’re located.
“We applaud the mayor’s commitment to adding space, particularly in the inner city,’’ Bachrach said.