Grants Will Help Build Boston Playgrounds (MA)

March 21, 2005
Massachusetts

Dorchester, Massachusetts, 3/21/05: The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national non-profit conservation organization, announced today that its Parks for People Program has received three grants to support construction of playgrounds in Codman Square, on Elmhurst Street and between Spencer and Whitfield streets at Aspinwall Road.

The Cabot Family Charitable Trust awarded a grant of $20,000 to TPL for the two "Neighborhood Backyards," as the future playgrounds have come to be called. The Paul and Edith Babson Foundation awarded a $15,000 grant and the Liberty Mutual Foundation also awarded a grant for the playgrounds. TPL will use these funds to construct the playgrounds and develop year-round programs for children and families. These grants are in addition to a $175,000 grant from MetLife Foundation.

While Boston has an average of 10.11 acres of public open space per 1,000 residents, Dorchester averages 4.84 acres per 1,000 residents, and Codman Square has only 1.9 park acres per 1,000 residents. These small, currently vacant lots west of Washington Street in Codman Square will provide a safe place for neighborhood children to play.

"Through our Parks for People Program, TPL is thrilled to have the hard work of the neighbors, the organizations of Codman Square, and the City of Boston recognized. This is a flagship effort of TPL's Parks for People Program and will help to demonstrate how every neighborhood can create improvements and new opportunities for its children," says Parks for People Program Director David Queeley.

TPL is part of a collaborative of residents and strong local social service agencies actively working to develop the Elmhurst and Spencer-Whitfield playgrounds, including the Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation, the Codman Square Health Center, the Dorchester Environmental Health Coalition, and the Boston Project Ministries. Sonja Johansson of the Johansson Design Collaborative is performing landscape and playground design.

"The Codman Square Health Center is proud to celebrate the fundraising momentum for the Neighborhood Backyards. These playgrounds will improve the health of children by giving them a great, safe place to play outdoors," says Chief Executive Officer Bill Walczak.

"Developing these lots into open spaces for neighbors is all part of building a community. For any community to be viable, it has to have an adequate mix of land uses, from affordable housing development, to open space and recreational land uses, to commercial development. The Codman Square NDC is proud to be working to realize our residents' longstanding desire for open space on these lots in partnership with TPL and other community organizations," says Codman Square NDC Executive Director Gail Latimore. To help promote work on the playgrounds, the NDC operates a Fair Foods redistribution site at their office on Washington Street on the second and fourth Saturday mornings of the month. The Friends of Elmhurst and Spencer-Whitfield Parks, a neighborhood group, also operates a Fair Foods site at the Global Ministries Christian Church, which opened February 4. The Friends of Elmhurst and Spencer-Whitfield Parks sponsor Fair Foods and other non-traditional activities to raise awareness about the Neighborhood Backyards, engage neighbors in planning for their community, and offer young people healthy play, encouragement, and supportive direction.

Both proposed playgrounds would be developed on land currently owned by the City of Boston's Department of Neighborhood Development (DND). Through its Grassroots Program, DND has been a major supporter for the development of the playgrounds since 2000 through pre-development funding and technical assistance. "The Department of Neighborhood Development is pleased to see the continued success of this community-driven project. While it can take a long time to make sure all the pieces are in place, that hard work is paying off," says DND Director Charlotte Golar Richie.

Once completed, the parks will be owned by the City of Boston Department of Parks and Recreation and managed by the community through an agreement with Parks. "We are pleased that these grants will provide play space for the children of Dorchester. We are also looking forward to working with TPL and the community to create a partnership that will continue to maintain and sustain these parks once they are built," says Parks Commissioner Antonia Pollak.

Major funding for the playgrounds' creation was provided by MetLife Foundation in July of 2003. MetLife Foundation has contributed $2 million to support the Trust for Public Land's work in cities nationwide, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Miami, New York City, Oakland and Chicago. MetLife Foundation, established by MetLife in 1976, supports health, education, civic and cultural programs throughout the United States. For more information about the Foundation, visit the Web site at www.metlife.org.

Other funders of the playgrounds include the Roy A. Hunt Foundation and the New England Grassroots Environmental Fund Urban Grants Initiative.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit conservation organization conserving land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. TPL depends on the generous support of individuals and businesses to implement its land for people mission. Through its Parks for People Program, TPL has supported the development of 56 park, open space, and community development projects in New England cities since 1985. For more information, please call (617) 367-6200 or visit www.tpl.org/newengland, and click on the "Programs" banner.

Note to editors:
For an electronic schematic or photograph of the proposed playgrounds, contact Daria Ovide at (617) 367-6200 x330.