Parks need people and people need parks. Yet parks do not have a voice so, together, we must speak up for them. Through the entirety of his tenure as the City of Boston’s chief executive, Mayor Martin J. Walsh has been a dear friend to the parks and the people that love and need them. Boston’s loss is our country’s gain – we wish Mayor Walsh the best in his new role as Secretary of Labor and want to take a moment to express how thankful we are for our work with the Walsh Administration and the City of Boston.
Mayor Walsh has been a valued partner to the parks advocacy community – increasing the Parks Department’s budget every year, and adding not only capital dollars but, most importantly, maintenance support as well. Even as a global pandemic bore down on the City, he proposed a strong parks budget, realizing that our greenspaces were vital to the health and resilience of the City and each of its citizens at a time of physical and emotional stress.
After 50 years of working together on a handshake, in 2020 the Friends and the City of Boston signed a formal cooperation agreement (MOA) to enhance the care of the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall in January 2020. The Agreement formalized a model and institutionalized a culture of collaboration to deliver innovative parks care with a goal of excellence by matching the stable assets of the public sector with the entrepreneurial flexibility of the private sector through a seamless, institutional partnership.
We look forward to continuing this partnership with the City of Boston and Mayoral Administrations for the next 50 years and beyond. Together, the City and the Friends will continue to ensure that these parks remain special places that serve the people of Boston and visitors alike while protecting and enriching these jewels in our City’s public realm for decades to come.
The three parks and other greenspaces throughout our City are places where we commune with nature and connect with one another. These are places that benefit from thoughtful stewardship, lifting up community voices, and centering parks management in shared values like equity, accessibility, and inclusivity. As Mayor Walsh said in his final State of the City address:
“A national study reported in the New York Times named Boston the city best prepared to come back strong from COVID. We made the right decisions in the good times, so Boston has the strength to move forward now…We’re investing more in our parks than any time since the Emerald Necklace was created in the 1800s.”
Parks and other greenspaces will continue to be at the intersection of how we address challenges like climate change and inequality and for coming together in protest or celebration about the issues of our day. Put simply, parks remind us that we are not alone. They are places that do not charge a price of admission but are where we come together and make some of our most priceless memories.
Whether it’s a new, community-driven master plan for America’s first public park, an urban forest plan for Boston, or a moment in time like seeing a friend off to a new position away from the City we all love, the choices we make become reflections of who we are and where we want to go. As Mayor, Walsh always made sure our people and parks were heading in the right direction and towards a brighter future. We have no doubt he will do the same in Washington, DC – our country and its people will be well served by a thoughtful and tenacious leader like Martin J. Walsh.
Leslie Singleton Adam & Liz Vizza