Boston, MA Open Space Plan

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Boston, MA, US

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Type: Policy

Status: Adopted

Source File:


Open Space Plan 2002-2006

As we start this new century, the City of Boston has developed a new citywide Open Space Plan --- approximately 500 pages long with 35 color maps --- to guide it in this vitally important facet of urban development. Lewis Mumford, the famous urban development critic, noted early in the twentieth century that Boston's integration of the built environment with green space made it a model American city. Mayor Thomas M. Menino understands the importance that Boston's citizens place on this interplay of open space and built space and our need for balanced development. That is why he supported the effort to plan ahead and manage our open space development, and assigned the Boston Parks and Recreation Department as the lead agency to draft the new citywide Open Space Plan.

The Parks Department worked with other agencies and planning efforts to develop an integrated plan for open space protection and development. The Open Space Plan looks at all public open space, regardless of ownership, including non-traditional open spaces such as urban wilds, community gardens, cemeteries, greenways, trails, thoroughfares, and harbor islands, as well as the traditional parks, playgrounds, squares, and malls. It also examines open lands under private ownership, such as non-profit institutions, so as to understand their role in the citywide open space system, and looks at the city's people to understand demographic and socio-economic trends of our residents and open space users. The Plan works to identify existing and new opportunities for play space in our city to accommodate newly emerging sports and other recreational activities.

As part of our data collection, we systematically compiled an environmental inventory to enable natural lands to be targeted for protection and stewardship in a priority plan. Urban wilds, the natural features of our parks, the rivers and harborfronts, wildlife, geologic features, soils, and vegetation - all this is now part of a truly comprehensive Open Space Plan.

In this ever-growing, dynamic city, opportunities abound for the development of open space. Vacant lots, abandoned rail corridors, air rights, and co-development of housing and open space are just a few of the opportunities available even in Boston, one of the oldest and densest cities of the Northeast. Underutilized harborfront lands also offer opportunities for linkages, as do the mass transit and roadway construction projects on the boards.

Community input was very important to the success of the Plan. The Plan involved various community participation processes, enabling the Department to solicit input on open space and its relationship to other urban development needs.

Incorporating community input and intensive research, Open Space Plan 2002-2006: Renewing the Legacy ... Fulfilling the Vision serves as a living blueprint to guide Boston as it evolves into an even greener, more livable city.

View the Open Space Plan 2002-2006 plan.