Martin’s Park, due to open next fall, called place of ‘light, hope, positivity’

Children joined in the groundbreaking for Martin’s Park last Thursday afternoon on Congress Street near the Boston Children’s Museum. Also on hand were members of the Richard family, Gov. Charlie Baker and Mayor Martin Walsh.
Jonathan Innocent photo

The family of eight-year-old Martin Richard, the youngest Boston Marathon bombing victim, offered heartfelt remarks alongside Mayor Martin Walsh and Gov. Charlie Baker at a groundbreaking ceremony for Martin’s Park on the South Boston waterfront last Wednesday afternoon (Aug. 17). The park is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2018.

Jane Richard, who lost her left leg in the explosion that claimed her brother’s life, said, “This park is going to include everything that I wished for.”

“When we were younger, all my brothers and I wanted to do was go to the park,” she told the crowd of officials, park sponsors, and hard-hatted children grasping shovels. “We loved it so much, we would go in the rain, snow, and probably even hail. But when I got hurt, it was hard for me because I wasn’t used to my new leg. I couldn’t even climb a simple thing like a tree. It was hard watching other kids while I was stuck sitting on the sidelines.”

The $10 million park is named in the honor of the young Martin. His family, with the support and organization of the Martin Richard Foundation, has celebrated Martin as a young advocate for peace and unity. An enduring image of Martin shows him holding a poster bearing the message “No more hurting people - peace.”

Bill Richard, Martin and Jane’s father, said the park will be “a place where all kids will have the opportunity to learn and play together without prejudice.”

Martin’s Park will be converted from green space previously owned by the MBTA, along with a parking lot space owned by the Boston Children’s Museum to create the freshly designed play area at the Smith Family Waterfront. This transition has been overseen by the City of Boston’s Parks and Recreation Department.

Designed by renowned landscaper Michael Van Valkenburgh, also the visionary behind Brooklyn Bridge Park and downtown Chicago’s Maggie Daley Park, Martin’s Park will have a number of features that are meant to be inclusive and accessible to all.

“This park and all it stands for and represents, and the Martin Richard Foundation and the Richard family, are about taking perhaps the darkest and most terrible and horrific experience anybody could possibly imagine and finding light, and hope, and positivity and future on which you can build something beautiful out of it,” Gov. Baker said. “And if there were ever a time in recent history when we would have a chance to stand here today, this week, and celebrate that… it is right now.”