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A space to celebrate our favorite spaces

Dorchester has a wealth of parks, beaches, reservations, trails and other open spaces. While some neighborhoods are more fortunate than others with regard to the abundance, quality, and amenities found at nearby parks, miles of our waterfront parks and trails function as popular regional draws open to all and T accessible.

According to the State’s OpenSpace database, we are fortunate to have over 460 acres of protected open space, or almost 12 percent of Dorchester’s land area. This does not include lands along Morrissey and Gallivan (unless there is an actual park), yet they are protected but not “useable”; nor does it include UMass or BC High, as that land has no protection, but is useable.

Ultimately, there will be a continuous waterfront trail from Southie (and beyond to downtown) running along Dorchester’s entire waterfront to Hyde Park (and the Blue Hills beyond). At the brink of fruition is the effort to link the Neponset River Trail to the Harborwalk from Port Norfolk to Savin Hill. And the unpaved section of Harborwalk from the JFK Library to HarborPoint will be completed.

On Commercial Point, National Grid is willing to provide an easement at the western edge of the gas tank property so that DCR can create an off-road link between the harborside sidewalk of Morrissey Blvd. and Victory Road Park. The trail will then pass under the expressway and continue on its west side behind the Philips Properties and emerge onto Conley St. at the old Sunbeam Bakery, thereby linking the Harborwalk and the Neponset River Trail. DotBike and BNAN recently revived the plan after it was put on hold for security reasons after 9/11.

On Columbia Point, the State’s Division of Capital Asset Management estimated that the cost to reinforce the eroding shoreline and construct the paved trail behind the historical Calf Pasture Pumphouse would be $5. The trail would be constructed within three years as one of the first projects in the UMass Master Plan. Just to the southeast along the trail, the JFK Library will soon break ground on a 175-foot section of shoreline seawall and paved trail construction as part of a Library expansion.

I approached the Reporter about writing this column to create interest in our parks. They are a common heritage for all of us to share and are a necessary amenity in urban life. It is also a way to recognize the efforts of a relative handful of advocates who devote their time to enhance, expand, program and protect our parks. I plan to profile a different Dot park and its advocates in each column. Please let me know about your park.

Paul Nutting lives in Savin Hill. He can be reached by e-mail at parksindot@gmail.com.