Chester Square Neighbors (CSN) held a celebratory festival on July 22, where neighbors gathered at Chester Park to unveil and dedicate the park’s new signs, as well as mingle with one another. Several candidates for City Council were in attendance to speak with residents about their campaigns, and Acting Mayor Kim Janey attended and spoke as well.
The festival featured light refreshments, as well as games and activities for kids and architectural sketches of potential future plans for the park.
CSN President Carol Blair thanked Kevin Jacobs and John Burns, who are redeveloping the Mount Calvary Baptist Church on Mass Ave., as they contributed funds for the new signs that were dedicated at the celebration.
She also thanked the Parks Department for their work on cleaning up the park prior to the celebration, and for making the fountain operational, as well as Mayor Janey for “paying attention to our neighborhood.”
Blair said that the signs “indicate that this was once the largest square in the South End.” It had once been one large park prior to the installation of six lanes of traffic down the middle in 1952.
“There was once a huge fountain right in the middle of the park where the road is,” Blair said. “So today we celebrate, but also we grieve what was, and consider possibilities for the future.”
Blair said that aside from the architectural sketches people could look at, residents were also encourage to sketch their own “dreams for the park,” she said. “Again, I say it wasn’t always this way and it won’t always be this way.”
Acting Mayor Kim Janey said she was “grateful” to be able to join folks in Chester Park for this event.
“As a kid growing up in Roxbury and the South End, I am someone who does bring these two neighborhoods together,” she said, “and I think we have a lot more work to do to bring residents together across our city to make sure that we are creating a better Boston for all of us.”
She continued, “I’m really so pleased to see so many residents of this community who care so deeply; who every single day care for this broader neighborhood and certainly for this park.”
Janey said that next year marks the 50th anniversary of the park being split in half, and she said that would be an “appropriate time to bring us back together.” She suggested having an “open street” celebration, as she is a big proponent of those. Janey does not own a car, and often travels on the MBTA.
“I think it is important that we have roads in our city that work for all of us,” Janey said. “It would be wonderful to have an open street next year to celebrate and to bring residents together.”