For my independent project, I am working with the Friends of the Malden River who are working towards re-imagining the river as a public space. I am working with my Park Mentor Andrew, and Jason Lee, who is an architect that has partnered with the City of Malden on this project. He and Malden City Councilor Ryan O’Malley have begun bringing new voices into the conversation of what equitable river access and open space looks and feels like in this area.
The Malden River had previously supported many industries, such as rubber and steel, in the early 1900s. This has left the riverbanks contaminated with many pollutants, as well as empty lots and light industry, which make it very absent from public conscience. There are many proposed development projects that are intended to increase public access.
I have been collecting some of the ideas people had in their vision of what a new park could incorporate.
The photos above show two separate ideas. The one on the left plans for plants to remove toxins from the soil and water. Once the area is determined to be clean the space will change into public parks, reservation land, and urban agriculture. The one on the right, designs a well lit canopy for food trucks to come to the site and advertise their restaurants that are located in Malden.
Something I had also thought that could be incorporated would be free recreational space, such as a playground or basketball court. This would allow people to be able to enjoy the space without having to spend any money.
In order to get the community involved, many public meetings have been held. The Friends of the Malden River believe that the people who are sitting at the table should be representatives from all race, age, economic, social, and educational background. So far, however, “…it became apparent early on that we had primarily tapped into two groups of people: middle-class citizens, mostly Anglo, who were active in local government and community functions and a group of retirees committed to using their time to making their communities better places to live.” -Paul Sabatier, Swimming Upstream. In an effort to encourage more people from the community to be involved, I am helping the team in their preparations for a “get to know you” BBQ taking place in the end of July.