A South Boston Stand-Out took place and its main purpose was to address a serious community problem.
The problem in question is the sale of South Boston’s Sr. Mary Veronica SND Park by the Archdiocese of Boston, which holds the title directly ever since St. Augustine Church closed. The sale will be to a developer, who then intends to shut down the Park and build housing on it.
This Park is located on West Eighth Street between F and Grimes Streets. It is open to everyone. And it is small – at 50 by 100, it’s approximately 5,000 square feet. Five basswood/linden trees encircled by small garden plots are located in the Park, as well as a couple of trees along the bordering sidewalk. The Park has five benches that can seat perhaps 30 people. In the interior of the Park, there’s an imposing grotto to the Virgin Mary, in memory of Sr. Mary Veronica SND. Overall, it is pleasant and very (!) shady.
More important is the Park’s history. It was opened exactly 55 years ago in November, 1968; it might be one of the very first so-called “pocket parks” in Boston. Our City is known for its major green areas, such as the Public Garden and “The Emerald Necklace”. Pocket parks bring intimate green spaces to Boston’s neighborhoods. Even more important, in our opinion, is the fact that neighborhood efforts, aided by St. Augustine Church and the City of Boston, created the Park. Still maintained by local residents, the Park preserves the memory of Sr. Mary Veronica, the former Mary Greene of South Boston. She dedicated her life to the SND, which stands for the “Sisters of Notre Dame”, and she passed from us at a much too early age 40. A further deep historic root goes back to St. Julie Billiart, the Founder of the SND in 1804. The SND has been active in America and in South Boston ever since the mid-1800s, more than 150 years ago.
The efforts to preserve the Park are spearheaded by “The Committee to Save Mary Veronica Park”. We had a brief, in-person interview with Vicky Shea, one of the nine Committee members. Vicky informed us that the City will not permit any variances to the potential construction on the Park’s land. She also assured us that nowadays the Park is totally maintained (!) by the volunteer efforts of the neighborhood’s residents, with mention of the Itri family’s ongoing work. She then emceed the speaking portion of the Stand-Out, and mentioned that the recent petition to save the Park has reached 1,500 signatures. She thinks it could reach 2,000 or more when it is completed. City Council President Ed Flynn, who lives nearby on Gold Street, stepped up with his support for keeping the Park.
Kevin Conroy piped his rendering of “The Wearing O’ the Green”, and the new Park sign was unveiled and mounted by Shawn Hilliard and Michael Sheehan, as a hundred Stand-Out participants loudly applauded. We’ll close by mentioning our own support for keeping Sr. Mary Veronica SND Park as a much-loved neighborhood Green Space.