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Press Release Baker-Polito Administration Celebrates the Opening of New Playground at Pope John Paul II Reservation

For immediate release:
  • Department of Conservation & Recreation

Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Celebrates the Opening of New Playground at Pope John Paul II Reservation

Olivia Dorrance, Press Secretary

Pope John Paul II Playground Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

BOSTONToday, Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Kathleen Theoharides and Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Commissioner Jim Montgomery joined City of Boston Mayor Kim Janey and state officials to celebrate the completion of the new playground at Pope John Paul II Reservation located at DCR’s Neponset River Greenway in Dorchester. The new $600,000 playground replaces the Park’s outdated playground built in 2001, and will provide children and families in the area and surrounding communities with an engaging outdoor recreational resource.


“Playgrounds serve as important recreational resources for neighborhoods across the Commonwealth, providing children with great opportunities to get outside and have fun,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “These types of spaces are extremely important within urban communities, where open spaces are harder to access, which is why our Administration has proposed a $100 million investment in parks, recreation, and open spaces through our plan to put federal ARPA funding to immediate use in Massachusetts’ cities and towns.”


“Our Administration continues to work with local officials, stakeholders, and the public in an effort to meet the needs of residents seeking quality outdoor time with their families,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “I’m excited for the neighborhood’s children, who will experience an outstanding new playground at Pope John Paul II Reservation that local families will enjoy for years to come.”


The new playground replaces the original Pope John Paul II Playground, first built by the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) in 2001. The playground was outdated and contained various public safety concerns. Following a public outreach campaign in fall 2019, DCR opted to design and construct a new playground at the site.


“Local parks such as neighborhood playgrounds provide important opportunities for children and their families to get outside and socialize, play, and live a healthy, active lifestyle,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “Pope John Paul II Reservation and this new playground serves as an important space for the local neighborhood, and investing in this resources advances critical priorities for the Baker-Polito Administration, including improving community resources and expanding access to outdoor recreational assets.”


“A household name in the neighborhood, the Pope John Paul II Playground at the Neponset River Greenway is an important urban recreational area for all of Dorchester,” said DCR Commissioner Jim Montgomery. “Importantly, the Baker-Polito Administration remains committed to enhancing the Commonwealth’s invaluable environmental, cultural, and recreational resources, and today’s ribbon cutting serves as a great example of these efforts.”


Design, permitting, and construction on the project cost approximately $600,000. Construction of the project began in April 2021 and was completed in July 2021. The playground construction project included:

·       The removal of existing equipment and surfacing; 

·       The installation of fencing and two gate entrances; 

·       The installation of new separated playground equipment for 2-5 year old children and for 5-12 year old children; 

·       The installation of poured in place rubber safety surfacing; 

·       The installation of associated site amenities, such as benches, bike racks, fully-accessible pathways, and landscaping; and, 

·       The repair of curb ramps and other features to improve accessibility.   


"Parks play a critical role in making our communities more sustainable and resilient against climate change. These open spaces are an example of how we can create opportunities despite the challenges that we face from climate change. I am so excited to add another place where our children can play freely and parents can feel safe. Thank you to Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides and Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Jim Montgomery for your work on this project," said Boston Mayor Kim Janey.


"I am grateful for the DCR's investment of a brand new playground at the Pope John Paul II Park." said State Representative Daniel Hunt (D-Dorchester). "After a trying year and a half, much of it spent cooped up indoors, it is more important than ever to have clean and safe space for our children, families and residents to enjoy outdoors."


“This brand-new children’s playground at Pope John Paul II Park is a welcome addition and will bring enormous value to our neighborhood", stated Councilor Frank Baker. “I am grateful to DCR and to our leaders at the state level for working together on this significant investment and I am looking forward to seeing the playground utilized for many years to come by the residents and children of Dorchester and beyond." 

Facilities like playgrounds assist in a child’s development of depth perception, spatial awareness, enhance gross and fine motor skills. Additionally, playgrounds improve upper and lower body strength in children in an inclusive play environment.  


In June 2021, the Baker-Polito Administration re-filed its plan to immediately put to use part of Commonwealth’s direct federal aid from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to support key priorities including housing and homeownership, economic development and local downtowns, job training and workforce development, health care, and infrastructure. As part of the Administration’s proposal to jump-start the Commonwealth’s economic recovery and support residents hardest-hit by COVID-19, such as lower-wage workers and communities of color,  Governor Baker would direct $900 million to key energy and environmental initiatives, including $100 million for parks, recreation, and open spaces. These funds would support investments in public lands, as well as lands specifically conserved for public access including parks, lakes, rivers, trails, beaches, fishing piers, boat ramps, and other waterways. Funding would be dedicated to projects that expand, enhance, and modernize the Commonwealth’s park facilities to steward and conserve natural resources, and to improve the resilience of natural and working lands, plants, and wildlife in the Commonwealth.




Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Celebrates the Opening of New Playground at Pope John Paul II Reservation

Department of Conservation & Recreation 

DCR manages state parks and oversees more than 450,000 acres throughout Massachusetts. It protects, promotes, and enhances the state’s natural, cultural, and recreational resources.