Mayor Wu Cuts Ribbon on Newly Renovated McConnell Park
Mayor Michelle Wu joined members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, elected officials, local youth sports leagues, park neighbors, and families for the official unveiling of $7.1 million in improvements to McConnell Park in Dorchester’s Savin Hill neighborhood. 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 play lot, fields, passive spaces, parking, utility improvements, and improved access.
Funding was provided by the Mayor’s Capital Improvement Plan supplemented by a $1 million Land and Water Conservation Fund grant. In addition to full renovation of the athletic facilities, the park was also designed to implement climate resilient measures due to its proximity to the harbor. These include raised portions of the site, a granite block barrier wall which further extends the flood protection potential of the park, and parking lot islands designed to retain and infiltrate stormwater.
“I'm thrilled to celebrate the opening of McConnell Park and unveiling our high water mark signs,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “As we continue to work to make Boston the greenest City in the country, we have to do so with a focus on inclusion, access, and communities who deserve and need space for fun, play, and for families to be together.”
“I am excited about the new and improved McConnell Park,” said City Councilor Frank Baker. “This significant 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 the District 3 City Councilor, I am looking forward to seeing this park utilized for many years to come.”
“As a parent of an autistic child and the chair of the Environmental Justice, Resiliency, and Parks committee, I am thrilled to commemorate the opening of McConnell Park,” said City Councilor Kendra Lara. “Considering accessibility, inclusion, and environmental justice in our park designs moves us one step closer to being a more resilient and inclusive city. Thanks to our City's leadership, children of all abilities can now enjoy a clean and safe park in their neighborhood, one that's environmentally responsible and can withstand the effects of climate change.”
“I’m proud of the way this design balances climate resilience with high quality outdoor recreation and inclusive play," said Boston Parks and Recreation Department Commissioner Ryan Woods. "The park provides a buffer against infrequent but devastating high water events, and neighbors can enjoy the site's open skies, fresh air, and sea views every day of the year.”
“McConnell Park was intentionally designed with climate preparedness at its core and includes resilient measures to sustain the community in the face of climate change,” said Dr. Alison Brizius, Environment Department Commissioner. “I’m grateful for all of our intergovernmental partners and the broader community who supported this park renovation and the creation of high water mark signs.”
Features include the new Little League field with a batting cage, drinking fountains, and irrigation; a multi-purpose softball field with ball netting; 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 ballfields feature new LED lighting, bleachers, and shaded dugouts.
“Growing up in Dorchester, the playground and these fields were such a fundamental part of everyday life,” said Mike Szkolka, a lifelong Savin Hill resident who was active in the project’s community design process during his presidency of the Columbia-Savin Hill Civic Association. “Many of my and my friends' earliest memories were formed here, and it's endlessly exciting that so many people will get to enjoy this space for decades to come.”
Other new amenities include an inclusive play area for children of all abilities, including a roller table, cozy cocoon spinner, slides and musical instruments; an accessible pathway throughout the park to all fields, play areas, and abutting streets; traffic calming strategies to slow cars on the access drive to the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) parking lot and Dorchester Yacht Club; a plaza containing a relocated memorial stone and a new bronze plaque to commemorate Capt. Joseph McConnell with an interpretive sign coming soon; and renovations on Springdale Street to clarify vehicular circulation and provide clear and safe pedestrian access.
McConnell Playground experienced significant flooding in the fields and parking lot from two Nor’easters in early 2018. Stormwater made its way across the park and into low lying areas in abutter’s backyards, flooding basements and properties. After these two coastal flood events, the US Geological Survey identified and surveyed several high water mark (HWMs) elevations 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 informational and interactive signage, including a digital story map, that will improve flood risk awareness for a variety of users and audiences, and connect residents and visitors to actions the City is taking to address these vulnerabilities.
“I would like to thank all our Massachusetts Silver Jackets team partners including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service, and 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 to where we are,” said Sheila Warren, Silver Jackets Coordinator for the U.S. 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 ribbon cutting of the 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 first budget proposal which includes groundbreaking investments in expanding Boston’s open spaces. This includes $137 million in capital funding and operating investments to create and protect parks, the tree canopy, and open spaces in the city and $2.5 million for a new Climate Ready Streets program within Climate Ready Boston.