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Healey Administration Will Continue to Reduce Riverbend Park Access In Favor of Motor Vehicle Traffic In 2024

A crowd of people on bikes rides down an empty four-lane highway. On the left side of the roadway are large trees and multi-story brick buildings; on the right is the Charles River with the Boston skyline in the distance.

People on bikes ride down Memorial Drive on a Saturday July 2023 in protest of the DCR’s decision to restrict park access in favor of automotive traffic. Courtesy of Car Free Boston.

The state's parks agency, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, has announced its intent to continue its controversial policy of favoring motor vehicle traffic over public access to riverfront parklands in the City of Cambridge this summer.

"Beginning on Sunday, April 28, 2024, and continuing through Sunday, November 10, 2024, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) will open Riverbend Park and close a segment of Memorial Drive from Western Avenue to Gerry’s Landing on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. for pedestrian and cyclist use," according to a DCR press advisory issued Wednesday afternoon.

During the final years of Gov. Charlie Baker's administration, Riverbend Park had been open on both Saturdays and Sundays.

But the Healey administration ended that tradition when her administration took over last year.

Thousands of Cambridge residents and the entirety of its City Council have called on the administration to re-instate the Saturday park events.

But a memo leaked last summer from a public records request revealed how intense lobbying behind closed doors convinced Gov. Healey's Environmental Secretary, Rebecca Tepper, to cancel the Saturday events.

In the public uproar that followed the release of that memo, a DCR spokesperson told StreetsblogMASS in late August last year that the agency's Commissioner "plans to meet with the City Council, city manager, and Cambridge delegation and will determine a plan for meaningful community engagement.”

Contrary to that promise, the DCR has held no public meetings on the Riverbend Park schedule for 2024.

DCR Commissioner Brian Arrigo did join a meeting of Cambridge park opponents in February, but, as reported in the Cambridge Day, that meeting's organizers explicitly told participants that park supporters were not welcome, and would be "purged" from the meeting if they spoke in favor of park access.

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