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New waterfront park to pay tribute to Martin Richard

Martin Richard.
Martin Richard.Uncredited

A grassy patch on the city’s waterfront will soon be filled with the sounds of children squealing on play-and-explore equipment as they let their imaginations run wild.

It is a park that aims to capture the irrepressible spirit of Martin Richard even as it pays tribute to the 8-year-old from Dorchester who was the youngest victim of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.

Facing the gleaming waterfront adjacent to the Boston Children’s Museum, the property will be transformed into an inclusive park and named for Martin.

The idea for the park was hatched last year, museum officials said, and now city authorities are stepping up fund-raising efforts, with the goal of opening in 2017. It is unclear how much money needs to be raised, officials said.

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Martin’s father, Bill Richard, said he was grateful to everyone who is helping to bring the idea for the park to fruition.

“The location, next to the Children’s Museum, is perfect,’’ Richard said in a statement. “The design will be something special and will attract children, families, and visitors from around the world.”

The property is owned by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and will be transferred to the Boston Parks and Recreation Department as protected public space for the park, officials said.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh hailed the project, saying the strength and commitment of the Richard family exemplify the spirit of the city.

Details of the park are still being drafted, but some ideas have emerged. Equipment will dot the park for children of varying abilities to play and explore, city and museum officials said.

Boston Children’s Museum president Carole Charnow said that for the past 20 years, the park site had been a source of intense debate between the museum and its Fort Point neighbors about how to convert the patch into a destination for children and their families.

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As development bloomed in the Seaport District, Charnow said she appealed to Walsh shortly after he took office last year to preserve the property.

A few months ago, Charnow said parks Commissioner Christopher Cook and Walsh’s policy adviser, Joyce Linehan, met with her and proposed constructing a park in Martin Richard’s memory. “Of course, I was deeply moved, and I could not have been more privileged and honored to be part of this wonderful proposal, to engage with the Richard family, the city, and state to create this beautiful destination for children in memory of dear little Martin,’’ Charnow said in an interview.

Officials said they hope the park will serve children from the Fort Point neighborhood, museum patrons, and visitors from across the region.

The park will be designed by the landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, whose other works include a garden at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and Teardrop Park in Manhattan.

The Martin Richard park is expected to be designed during fiscal 2016 with community input. It will be constructed in 2017, the mayor’s press office said. Fund-raising is underway. Early contributors include P&G Gillette, the Highland Street Foundation, and the Martin Richard Charitable Foundation, the mayor’s press office said.

Governor Charlie Baker said the park will be a haven for children and families, and will “honor the life of a truly remarkable child.”


Meghan E. Irons can be reached at meghan.irons@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @meghanirons.

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