MARY ELLEN WELCH MEMORIAL GARDEN

In Spring 2021 we welcomed the Mary Ellen Welch Memorial Garden at the Greenway entrance by Marginal Street. We are so happy to have this garden in the Greenway to remember and honor the legacy of Mary Ellen Welch.

We hope that old and new visitors will enjoy gathering in the area to remember and learn about Mary Ellen’s life while enjoying the different colors of the garden each season.

We believe that the memorial garden will continue the joyful and brave spirit of Mary Ellen into the community. 

ABOUT THE GARDEN

We wanted the garden to be a cheerful and peaceful place to remember our friend and community member. Mary Ellen was so important for East Boston and for the creation of the Greenway and we want to celebrate her positive impact through this garden.

The memorial garden is located at the current beginning of the Greenway at Marginal Street and we expect it to become a landmark at the Greenway entrance for the Jeffries Point community. 

The garden is a simple design composed of a resting/gathering/contemplating space surrounded by herbaceous plants and bushes. The memorial garden design utilizes the location of an existing planting bed. In that sense, it looks to renovate the space to provide an area of calm that allows the visitors to sit down and contemplate in the new garden. It also aims to be a space for people to enjoy themselves while either sitting surrounded by plants of different heights and colors or by walking in a path between the flowers. 

The plant palette is composed of a balance of native and adapted species carefully selected to create a garden in constant change that includes different colors and textures. The project intends to remember Mary Ellen’s life with all the happy colors and diversity of experiences throughout the year. Below you can see a list of species appropriated for the Greenway and the list of species that we planted in the memorial garden. Additionally, we included a Rose of Sharon donated by Mary Ellen Welch’s niece to acknowledge her family lineage. 

Proposed plant palette
Memorial Garden plant list

Finally, within the contemplation space, the garden includes two green Adirondack chairs, Mary Ellen’s favorite color, to acknowledge her Irish heritage.

Memorial Garden Fall 2021

CREATING THE MEMORIAL GARDEN

We started talking about the idea of a garden when we changed the name of the Greenway to Mary Ellen Welch Greenway. Its creation involved several Greenway Board and Council members and meetings with the City of Boston so now we can proudly enjoy our memorial garden. 

The landscape design started with the support of our board member James Kros and it was finished by Luli (María de la Luz) Lobos Martínez. Both of them shared their design concepts and plant palettes at the Greenway Council meetings so the design could be adapted considering the community’s suggestions. 

We had several meetings with Parks and Recreation Department staff to define the scope of the garden and get the design approved. We are grateful to the Parks and Recreation Department for funding the garden from its Fund for Parks and Recreation in Boston.

Project design plans through the seasons.

PLANTING PROCESS

The design was implemented by community members and volunteers who spent the day together talking about Mary Ellen.

The week before planting day, we had Metro Management work with us to remove the weeds and amend the soil. We are so grateful for their support. Sal LaMattina also helped us by providing space to store the plants and moving them from the truck to the storage location.

On June 12, 2021, we had a full working day where we planted all the plants on-site following the previously traced areas. We had a lot of fun sharing with other community members and getting our hands in the dirt. We remembered anecdotes that we have lived with Mary Ellen Welch, got to know new neighbors, enjoyed gathering after so many months of covid related social distancing, and shared some pizza.

By the end of the planting day, the State representative Adrian Maddaro passed by and said “my aunt is smiling from the skies right now!” after looking at the garden. We certainly hope Mary Ellen is enjoying the garden and that you will get a chance to sit and take pleasure in the memorial garden.

We are especially grateful to Nat Taylor and Liz Mullard for watering the garden during its first months making sure that all the plant species settled down in their new home. 

WHAT’S COMING NEXT?

Currently, we are in the process of creating signage for the garden so visitors can learn about Mary Ellen’s life. We are looking forward to putting the sign on the site.

Also, there is an ice cream shop coming to the area! The shop will be implemented inside of the blue caboose and will be owned by one of our neighbors. We are excited that we will have a place to enjoy some frozen goodies while enjoying a walk in the Greenway and the memorial garden views.  

If you visit, send us your pictures to eastiegreenway@gmail.com or tag us on social media @eastiegreenway.

ABOUT THE LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT

Luli (María de la Luz) Lobos Martínez has been our design and planning consultant since November 2019 and took over the project. She is an architect and landscape architect by profession having attended the Universidad de Chile in her hometown Santiago de Chile and the Harvard University Graduate School of Design in Cambridge, MA.

Additionally, she is the Mobility and Environmental Systems Analyst at LivableStreets Alliance and the project lead at the Gender and Mobility Initiative. You can check more of her work at her IG @mllobosmdesign.

Are ‘Green’ Communites More Driveable?

by Chris Marchi

When my daughter joined the Jose Mateo Ballet, trips into Harvard Square became part of my routine. And while I wasn’t excited about fighting traffic, and finding parking, I wanted to see how efforts to improve pedestrian and cycling in Cambridge were going.

I hoped to see if the flow of people, bikes and cars there, could show us how improving walking and biking in Central Square, East Boston, where I live, might help, or hurt mobility through our downtown.

With the Red Line, bus routes, and charter buses branded with Harvard University symbols, bringing people in, the area seemed as busy as ever. On the inbound side of the Square, where auto traffic on Mass Ave. is one-way, the city had installed a parking-sheltered bike lane, along with STOP signs, and extended sidewalks. While volume was high, and backed-up a few times, traffic moved smoothly.

Driving in the area required minor changes in alertness, and speed, but everyone seemed to be adjusting well to one another. Rather than causing conflict, the interactions between motorists, cyclists and pedestrians were good-natured, and added a collaborative social element that enhanced the area.

As for economic impacts: other than a number of small businesses that have been replaced by chain stores over the years, – an element of capitalism that feels out-of-place, the area was as vibrant as ever: The shared-road system hadn’t harmed economic vitality; again, the opposite effect seemed to be present: the street environment seemed safe, orderly, and more navigable.

After finding parking at multiple locations with similar ease repeatedly, I also concluded that parking in Harvard Square had become easier. Rather than the nightmare I expected, I’d been pulling into open, legal spots for weeks! To learn more about who was using the new mixed mobility system, which seemed to be working so well, I took two quick surveys on two separate days.

Pedestrian Age Chart

On Day One: I tallied 190 pedestrians heading inbound on Massachusetts Avenue in a sample of just over 30 minutes, on a pleasant October weekday afternoon. For each pedestrian, I recorded gender, and an estimate of age. The pedestrian population was comprised of all ages, but was predictably centered on young 20’s to 30’s.

The age of the late afternoon Harvard Square inbound walkers, appeared to be about 30 years of age. Gender was about even, with slightly more female, than male. There were ‘holes’ in the data, in the teenage, and early 50’s age groups (I assume those groups are present, but not on foot or bike).

Cyclist Gender Chart

Two days later, I observed cyclists heading inbound on Mass Ave. In the same short time, I observed 122 cyclists, flowing into the Square. Interestingly, more of the cyclists in my sample were female- about 40% of total riders, compared to the national average of about 25%. The average age of the riders I observed appeared to be slightly older that the average pedestrian: at around 35 years old. Just as with the pedestrian survey, there was a noticeable gap in children and teenaged response, however the early 50’s ‘hole’ was not evident.

What was evident, was that by not driving, the T riders, pedestrians and cyclists in Harvard Square, were reducing traffic and improving the availability of parking.

That parking and traffic could be improved, by making room on our roads for for bike and pedestrian travel, might seem strange, but if it’s true, this idea could be an important key to solving otherwise vexing problems in East Boston. We already have an extensive bike and pedestrian Greenway; if use of some of the Harvard Square tactics could reduce traffic and air pollution, while improving our local economy, and freeing up parking, our quality of life, here would go way up.

Friends of the East Boston Greenway is always looking to improve our open spaces. If you want to add your feedback, thoughts, and ideas, and help shape a conversation about parking and traffic congestion, take a few minutes to complete this brief poll:

https://goo.gl/forms/uQev3yLGFzBdWDtC3