Local News

Mattapan residents speak out against proposed spray pad

Frustrated community members say DCR didn’t involve them in plans to convert a local wading pool into a spray pad.

People cool off in the Ryan Wading Pool in Mattapan on a hot August day.

Some Mattapan residents are reportedly frustrated over an upcoming project to convert a local wading pool into a spray deck.

According to a recent report by the Dorchester Reporter, about two dozen concerned residents attended a Zoom meeting Wednesday with representatives from the Massachusetts Department of Recreation (DCR). During the meeting, some community members said they were upset that they weren’t involved in the decision to convert Ryan Wading Pool to a splash deck, with some saying the DCR is out of touch with the community. 

During the 90-minute virtual meeting, community leaders said many residents want the wading pool to stay. State Rep. Brandy Fluker Oakley pointed to frustration over community members not having a say in the decision-making process. According to the local news outlet, Oakley said there’s “a feeling of things being ‘done to’ the Mattapan community rather than ‘with the community. It feels like we weren’t brought along.’”


Construction at the wading pool, located at 350 River St., is scheduled to begin on Oct. 15. 

An online petition collected nearly 200 signatures to prevent the project from going forward. 

The Change.org page says: “Trying to save the beloved Ryan Wadding Pool in Mattapan. Set to be bulldozed on October 15th by Mass DCR. There was NO community input. This wading pool is beloved by families and children throughout Boston. Let’s save it!”

One petition supporter commented, “I support families in the community who value this resource. ADD a splash pad, but don’t remove the pool!”

According to the Dorchester Reporter, community member Ruth Georges said at Wednesday’s meeting that she’d like to “echo the sentiments of the (other) residents: We would like to know what is the process for stopping this from moving forward.”

DCR officials said transitioning from a wading pool to a spray deck has several benefits, mainly less maintenance. It will double the time residents can use the facility—from the current nine weeks to 18 weeks. The spray deck also will not require the presence of lifeguards and chemical treatment and will operate on a timer, the report said. 


The Mattapan project is one of several switches from wading pools to spray decks throughout the state to reduce maintenance needs and expand community access. DCR officials pointed to long lines at the Mattapan wading pool and said it’s often at capacity, whereas spray decks will allow more people in at once.

Greater Mattapan Neighborhood Council Chair Fatima Ali-Salaam said long lines may have been due to another local pool’s closure and expressed a disconnect between the DCR and the Mattapan community.

“This is not a community engagement process. It really isn’t,” Ali-Salaam said, according to the report.

State funding for the spray deck of $600,000 became available over the summer, the Dorchester Reporter said, and DCR has already hired contractors to do the work. But in response to the concerns aired at Wednesday’s meeting, a DCR official said they’d take the matter back to senior management.

“I think what we’re hearing loud and clear, we’re going to take it back to our agency,” said DCR Engineer Raul Silva.


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