Paige Peltzer, MUP 2016
Summer 2015
Organization: Washington Gateway Main Street, Boston, MA, USA
Sponsor: Greater Boston Community Service Fellowship

“Washington Gateway Main Street (WGMS) has been involved in improving Ramsay Park, located between Washington and Shamut Street at Melnea Cass Boulevard. The park is named after Captain David L. Ramsay, a graduate of Roxbury English High School and the US Military Academy, who died while serving as a jet fighter pilot in the Vietnam War. According to neighbors, the park has long been a site for illegal and unwelcoming activities. In 2014, the Friends of Ramsay Park community group was established as a collaboration of community members and organizations bent on cleaning up the park and planning positive activities in it.

This summer, WGMS and Friends of Ramsay Park have organized BBQs; a community clean up day; basketball and tennis lessons for youth; renovation projects to be carried out by Northeastern University facilities volunteers; and a coffee hour with Mayor Walsh in the park. I secured a donation of youth tennis rackets from World TeamTennis so that volunteers from the Jewish Community Relations Council could teach lessons to youth in the park on Tuesday evenings, and I organized lessons to be provided by Sportsmen’s Tennis on Monday nights. I’m working to organize the next community night in the park on July 30th by inviting artists, dancers, and local representatives, and securing art supplies for the making of public art and a community board. My boss, an organizer at St. Stephen’s youth, and I walked Northeastern facilities managers through the park and came up with a list of renovations to the baseball field and the park for their team to complete in August.

Youth at nearby St. Stephen’s church recently completed a mural, transforming a hardscape area that was formerly empty, and soon, WGMS will work with YouthBuild to teach Boston youth landscape and urban design skills as they redesign the park using community feedback. So far, it has been exciting to see more young people and community members enjoying the park as it comes back to life.

Tennis lessons in Ramsay Park taught by Sportsmen’s Tennis

Tennis lessons in Ramsay Park taught by Sportsmen’s Tennis

Last Friday I helped present Ramsay Park to youth at YouthBuild along with my boss, and I gave a short presentation on urban planning to them, relating planning to site analysis. None of the youth, age 14-19, had heard of planning before. Having gathered feedback from community members about changes they would like to see in the park, I will continue outreach to the Boston Parks and Rec Department to push to have Ramsay Park added to the capital budget. The Friends of Ramsay Park group encourages community members and organizations to use and care about the vitality of the park, so it has been a true community effort thus far.”