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Construction begins at the Painted Park

Construction begins at the Painted Park

To see the location of this parcel of land and pictures click on this link. East Cambridge Hot Spots Map

To see the pics, click on the image in the bubble that pops up. Double click on the map to zoom in.

After eight years of waiting, construction is starting at the corner of Charles St. and Lopez Ave. in East Cambridge. Back around 2000, activists in the neighborhood With the help of the East Cambridge Planning Team, were able to persuade a developer to donate a small plot of land to the city for open space as mitigation for their project. It is located across Lopez Ave. from Costa Lopez Taylor park. (Who was Costa Lopez Taylor anyway?)

In typical form, the city jumped on the opportunity and immediately built the most wonderful public space in the country... Oh, wait, that was in Narnia. This is Cambridge. let me start this paragraph over.

In typical form, the city ignored this gift for years. There are those among us who believe that is the result of Bob Healy’s reaction to citizens getting in between him and a development deal. Whatever the reason, a couple of years ago, the Community Development Department (CDD) decided to pick up this project. They held a couple of public meetings where they presented plans and wrote down neighbors’ thoughts and suggestions. I think I liked their first plan more than the present one, but they are both pretty nice. In my experience, usually when the city holds these meetings, it seems like the reason is to be able to claim that there was a “public process” and then to either do nothing or whatever they were going to do anyway as per Mr. Healy. I’m not sure exactly why it went differently here, but I’m quite sure it had to do with residents’ persistence and organization.

One of the most effective things we did was to paint the pavement that covered the parcel. The idea was to give the idea that this former illegal parking lot was going to be a park some credibility and inevitability. It also gave neighbors who participated in the project a sense of investment and ownership. CDD was told about this and decided to provide the paint rather than look like uncaring bureaucrats. I think, at this point they actually were paying attention. There was no way they could back out now without making the city look really bad.

The work that is happening now is really preparation rather than construction. Part of Lopez Ave. is being discontinued and incorporated into the park, so drainage changes and improvements are being made. The real construction is scheduled to begin in late June or July.

As a confirmed skeptic, I’ll believe nothing until I actually see it, but this gives me a good feeling.