The rotting, nearly four-acre pier near Logan Airport in East Boston is a blank canvas of sorts, just waiting to be turned into a piece of art as Boston’s newest waterfront park. Now, the Trustees of Reservations is soliciting community input to decide what this artwork should look like.
The project, dubbed Piers Park 3, could cost $30 million to $40 million. The group has quietly been raising money among its influential donor base, with about $20 million committed so far, according to Jocelyn Forbush, executive vice president at the nonprofit. The goal is nothing less ambitious than designing a “jaw-dropping park” with amazing views of the city skyline, working with the famed landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Forbush said.
“We’re well on our way,” Forbush said. “That doesn’t mean we’re done. We have a lot of work to do as we push the design work forward to continue to raise those funds.”
The group has begun meeting with community organizations to seek ideas. Last week, it met with the Eagle Hill Civic Association and the East Boston Greenway Council. Several more meetings are scheduled in the coming weeks. And the Trustees of Reservations will host its own community meeting on Jan. 12 (virtually, of course). Ideas under discussion include a kayak launch and manmade tidal pools. Forbush hopes construction can start in 2022 and be completed by late 2023 or early 2024.
The group is working with the Massachusetts Port Authority in two ways: The port authority owns the pier where the park would be built, and it is designing a park expansion with the community (dubbed Piers Park 2) on land next to the pier. Massport built the first phase of the Piers Park complex about 25 years ago. In total, the entire complex will span some 15 acres.
This project will be the first Trustees waterfront park in Boston. But it won’t be the last, not if Forbush has anything to say about it. The nonprofit has been on the hunt for other park opportunities along the harbor, particularly with a focus on increasing access to the shoreline and improving its resiliency to storms and tides. This represents a pivot, of sorts, for a group best known for properties in the suburbs and outlying towns. Other locations that have caught the organization’s eye in Boston include Dry Dock No. 4 (behind the concert pavilion in South Boston), Fort Point Channel, and Sargent’s Wharf (on the edge of the North End).