Vacant, city-owned Savin Hill lot designated as green space

Coming soon for this space: flower garden, arbors, a gazebo and much more. City of Boston photo

A parcel of land on Savin Hill Ave. that has been vacant for some 30 years will be transformed into a community green space with a flower garden, lending library, exercise equipment, arbors, and a gazebo, Mayor Martin Walsh said last week in announcing what he called “a fantastic use.”

Nearby residents and community members who have advocated for dedicating the 21,000-square foot property, which overlooks the northbound side of the Southeast Expressway, to green space say they will play a part in maintaining it.

The non-profit Boston Food Forest Coalition (BFFC) was designated as the owner and developer of the new space at last Tuesday’s Public Facilities Commission meeting.

“The coalition will continue to work closely with the community to create what will truly be an urban oasis,” said Walsh in a statement. “I’m pleased that the plan is to use both the native puddingstone ledges and the beautiful mature trees that were already there while adding terrific new features like a formal garden and a gazebo. My thanks to all the neighbors in Savin Hill who worked tirelessly to make this a reality, as they continue to oversee the new space.”

A community process to plan the future of the parcel began in 2017, when residents asked for a partnership between them and BFFC in the redevelopment and management of the new park space. Together, they are now hammering out the details and discussing additional funding options for a design with both active and passive spaces along pathways that curve around the veins of exposed puddingstone, shaded by new arbors that complement older trees.

“The community is very excited,” said Peter McNamara, a Grampian Way resident who chairs the neighborhood group that sought the partnership with BFFC. “There are already 25 potential volunteers, many of whom have never met, but all of whom are looking forward to connecting through gardening and our collective commitment to improving our neighborhood and creating a safer, more beautiful space.

He added: “We want the space to be filled with community events, like a fit zone for the elderly to exercise, and a space to bring in speakers or offer outdoor yoga, maybe a play space for kids and parents to explore. The whole neighborhood is talking about how we can help make this all happen.”

Orion Kriegman, the BFFC’s executive director, called the site “a haven, a community gathering space and outdoor classroom open to all and held by the land trust in perpetuity for all neighbors.”

The Boston Food Forest Coalition has secured $25,000 in grants from the Grassroots Program at the city’s Department of Neighborhood Development, and is looking for additional sources to meet the project's estimated $100,000 funding requirement.