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How a North End playground got turned into a parking lot

Streetsblog Mass chronicles the decades-long transformation of a playground on Foster Street into a parking lot - and notes the city recently agreed to spend $50,000 on the space, not to reinstall swings but to repave it for the cars.

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Valuing a few cars over people. Disgusting. I’ve seen kids in the North End have to play in the street and dodge traffic because there is so little space in the North End and what space exists is given to selfish car owners.


This an Article 97 violation. Parking is a prohibited use in designated parkland and open space. The city has a legal obligation to restore the parkland to its intended use. The CLF should sue the city into compliance.


What are the laws in Massachusetts? In some states, parkland is constitutionally protected forever, so it takes an amendment to the state constitution to convert it to another use.

As noted above, Article 97 of the amendments to the Massachusetts Constitution, adopted in 1972.

"Lands and easements taken or acquired for such purposes shall not be used for other purposes or otherwise disposed of except by laws enacted by a two thirds vote, taken by yeas and nays, of each branch of the general court."

In practice, my understanding is this approval is often granted by the General Court, especially when the city or town involved makes a request for special legislation.

...it has bicycle parking.


Last I checked you geezerboomer motor vehicle worshippers were screaming at cyclists to get on the sidewalk and calling our bikes "child's toys".

Make up your alleged minds, boomers!

Between your anti-mask rants and conspiracy theories, you're going the way of that T-rex - you just don't know it yet.


Maybe you can do a dead kennedys song for me?

Oh no, not kids playing in the streets!! Whatever shall we do with this injustice??

Prior to the year 2000 kids all over the world played in the streets and survived. I think the same would happen in Boston. Put down the kid bubble wrap and step away slowly.

A driver gets his license


He's right here.

Enjoy your lifestyle-caused health problems, motoboy.

People drive cars: mind blown! Do you monitor UHub for car and bike posts 24/7??

Street view of the park.

Parcel map of the park.

How does this just happen gradually? What happened to the swings? Why wasn't there a gate to keep people from driving in?


It starts with the fact that the "park" was a paved surface. Then, as the article notes, the demographics changed in the area, meaning there were less kids going there. Add to the mix that 40 years ago the city was in rough enough of shape that whatever facilities were there were allowed to deteriorate (this happened with a "park" that was near my house back in the day that is now housing) to the point that there was nothing left but asphalt or concrete.

Gates? Not likely for earlier playgrounds.

Metal and wood equipment falls apart. City doesn't replace it. People start parking. City doesn't ticket them. Then someone uses the lame excuse "this is the way we've always done it and anything else is impossible".

And put up a parking lot.


The answer is "do you know how expensive that paint is?" The answer is $24.98 per gallon at Home Depot.

Essex Square at the intersection of Essex and Lyndeboro Streets in Charlestown is City owned and under Parks Department jurisdiction and appears to have been commandeered for private use by abutters, complete with a gate and fence.