Conway Park Set to Reopen May 27 with Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

After a five-year remediation and renovation process, Somerville will celebrate the park’s full reopening with a ribbon cutting open to all

After five years of extensive soil testing, remediation, and renovation, including the removal of 8,700 tons of contaminated soil, Somerville’s Conway Park is set to reopen in its entirety on Friday, May 27.  

The new Conway Park features an array of recreational and environmental improvements that will serve the community for generations to come, including a reconstructed athletic field, a refurbished playground, and a new splash pad that will open for immediate use. Mayor Katjana Ballantyne and Ward 2 Councilor J.T. Scott will mark the opening with a ribbon cutting that morning at 11 a.m., and all are invited to join the celebration.   

Conway Park, a 2.8-acre complex at 550 Somerville Avenue, is one of the most heavily used recreation facilities in Somerville. In 2018, the multi-use field, a portion of the playground, and the splash pad were closed after soil testing revealed polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and lead contaminants, some exceeding regulatory limits.  

The City and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) worked closely to determine the nature and extent of contamination, and in 2020, the City and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) partnered to remediate the park in accordance with federal and state environmental regulations. EPA provided an unprecedented amount of financial support and expertise to clean and restore the site, ultimately working with the City to remove more than 8,700 tons of contaminated soils. Renovations wrapped up this spring, and Conway Park is ready to welcome visitors once again.  

“Conway Park is a vital amenity for so many in our community, and I am thrilled to invite everyone back to enjoy this space,” said Mayor Katjana Ballantyne. “Rehabilitating the park has been a huge undertaking, and I am grateful to our dedicated staff and our partners at the state and EPA for supporting this expansive remediation. Federal participation made this project possible, and I thank the EPA for restoring this valuable community asset to Somerville. I know these last several years have been challenging without the park, but now, as the warm weather arrives, we can once again splash, slide, and play at Conway.”  

Conway Park is now a safe, vibrant community space that will better serve users today and withstand more extreme weather conditions due to climate change. The new synthetic-turf field features a plant-based infill, which facilitates drainage and stays cooler than rubber. Beneath the field, a stormwater infiltration system adds 3,743 cubic feet of storage. New utilities were also installed, and retaining walls along the south and southeastern site borders were repaired. Other new amenities include scoreboards, benches, backstops, water bubblers to keep athletes hydrated, and energy-efficient lighting that will minimize spillage into nearby homes.  

The park also features 64 new native trees around the perimeter, as well as native pollinator plantings, tables and seating, and permeable pavers at the splash pad to help mitigate water runoff. The existing playground was refurbished, with new elements added for younger children, and the trees in the plaza were preserved to maintain a shady seating area for visitors.  

“This has been an incredibly complicated project encompassing five years of work, from the testing and remediation to the funding and construction. It serves as a model partnership with state agencies, including the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Conservation and Recreation, as well as the U.S. EPA,” said Luisa Oliveira, Director of Public Space and Urban Forestry. “We couldn’t have completed this project without their collaboration. We are thrilled to return a healthy park to the community that serves as a place to gather and recreate as well as a ‘working landscape’ designed with climate change in mind.”  

“We are so excited for Conway to reopen,” said Jill Lathan, DPW Commissioner and Director of Parks and Recreation. “Given the density of our city, field space is in high demand. Conway provides a much-needed venue for Somerville youth to pursue athletics and be active, which is vital for their physical and mental health. This is a major milestone to celebrate, and we’re grateful to all who made this possible for youth and families in Somerville.”

This project was funded through the City, the Land and Water Conservation Fund Grant Program, and the EPA. For more information about the project, go to somervillema.gov/conwaypark. To learn more about the facilities and see the athletics schedule, go to somervillerec.com.

 


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