Greenspace and Splashpad at Mary Jane Lee Park

Splashpad Plan MJLP 2014.09.05_Page_1

The City of Salem secured a $200,000 state grant to place a splashpad in one of its parks. Having worked in the Point neighborhood through the Salem Public Space Project, and now affiliated with Friends of Mary Jane Lee Park, I am excited that the City has chosen Mary Jane Lee Park for the splashpad that has long been desired by residents. A wonderful prospect for the kids!

This is one of the biggest public space investments in the Point neighborhood in many years. Unfortunately, the location of the new amenity comes at a great cost. Although the park is half greenspace and half asphalt, the City plans to locate the impermeable surface of the splashpad in place of the green-space. We, at Friends of Mary Jane Lee Park, propose it be located on the asphalt.

Splashpad Plan MJLP 2014.09.05_Page_2

Although the City has offered to recreate green space next spring, it cannot be as large as the current common green space. The current location reveals a mismanagement of resources: why tear up green space, only to relocate it later? In addition, the City Proposed location of the spalshpad will result in cutting down the mature evergreen tree. The plans stipulate the addition of more trees, but they do not replace a mature tree for its benefits to mitigating air pollution. With the current configuration, the park parcel is not large enough to include all of the planned (and welcome) activities by the City that include: Splashpad, Children Ride Track, Playground, Greenspace, and Parking. Our proposal can include all of these activities and the largest possible surface area of permeable green space. Furthermore, the splashpad will serve as water play three months out of the year – the rest it will be a concrete, impermeable surface.

Friends of Mary Jane Lee Park have gathered over 250 signatures of residents that prefer we relocate the splashpad to keep the green space!

Spring play by the pine tree

Spring play by the evergreen tree

The Point Visioning Plan, developed by a coalition of state, city, and neighborhood groups, stipulates that “greening” the Point is a top priority. Currently, the neighborhood has the least amount of distributed green space. The neighborhood is four times as dense as the rest of Salem, and many residents don’t have outside space, front or back yards; they go to the park to enjoy green space.

Despite meetings and emails, we have not been given any concrete reason as to how and why the proposed location was determined. The City asserts we need fast action as the splashpad needs to be completed by December or we can lose the funding! The first public meeting that showed the location was on July 28th. That was only about six weeks ago. There will be another public meeting next Tuesday. Come support the new splashpad amenity and maintaining green space in the Point!

Park and Recreation Commission Meeting August 19, 2014, at 6:45 p.m. 5 Broad Street (Senior Center)

Mary Jane Lee Park Clean Up Day


Informal conversations and a lot of clean up at the park

Saturday, August 30th, from nine to noon the community joined Friends of Mary Jane Lee Park and cleaned up the park! We sifted sand, removed graffiti, pulled weeds, raked grass, and of course, picked up trash. In addition to residents, we were joined by Councilpersons William Legault, at large, and Heather Famico, Ward 2.


Some of the women of Friends of Mary Jane Lee Park, who organized the clean-up.


After the clean-up, participants line up for pizza, juice, and cookies.


Heather Famico, Ward 2 Councilwoman, was impressed with the cleaning efforts of her two young helpers!


Sand sifting: sounds easier than it is!


Nature needed a little trim too.


Doreen Thomas, president of Friends of Mary Jane Lee Park, sure knows how to orchestrate!


Linda Locke, Friends of Mary Jane Lee Park, welcomes Councilman Bill Legault to the effort.


Helpers, and posters, brooms galore.

There was plenty of conversation too about the future of the park, especially since the City of Salem recently obtained a grant for a new splash-pad – a water based sculpture where children (and adults) will be able to play. You may have seen the Ring Fountain on the Boston Greenway that draws crowds on summer days. Residents have ideas about the shape and location of the welcome addition.


Participants look at splash pad examples.


Zena, Friends of Mary Jane Lee Park, points out her favorite spalsh pad in Albion Park, Somerville.

Have you been to any of these splash-pads around Boston?

Splashpad Precedents xs

Doreen gets a new sign!

Doreen and the new sign

The crazy thing about the new sign for “Friends of Mary Jane Lee Park” is that the lady who made the old one, eight years ago, recently passed away. The day I wanted to take the sign to Doreen, she was heading out to the memorial service. The following day, when I brought her the sign, Doreen told me of their former sign artist, and showed me all the scrapbooks that she had made. The new sign was timely – new beginnings in the fall.