Manchester Street Park Receives National Award

2010 Brownfields Renewal Social Impact of the Year Award magazine article

Brownfield Renewal Magazine Recognizes Manchester Street Park with 2010 Award For Social Impact

Community Embraces Former Incinerator Site in Lawrence, MA to Create Healthy Oasis for Recreation, Gardening and Gathering

LAWRENCE, MA - October 20, 2010 – The recently renovated Manchester Street Park (Covanta site), a 5-acre former incinerator site on the Spicket River in urban Lawrence, Massachusetts, has been recognized by the trade publication Brownfield Renewal with its 2010 Brownfield Renewal Award for Social Impact. The awards, determined by a distinguished panel of industry experts, are “presented to projects that represent the gold standard of development across three distinct industry spheres of influence,” according to the publication.

Manchester Street Park, which opened in September 2009, was jointly developed by Groundwork Lawrence, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in Lawrence, and the City of Lawrence with extensive input from residents in surrounding neighborhoods. The waterfront park, now home to playgrounds and community gardens, groves of native trees and open green spaces, was once contaminated with mercury, lead and other pollutants, the toxic legacy of the former Covanta incinerator, which burned municipal trash on the site for nearly 20 years.

In her nomination, Groundwork USA’s Kate O’Brien described Manchester Street Park’s long transformation as a “multi-year labor of love.” She described a true partnership driven not by the promise of eventual profits, but instead by “the metamorphosis of this community liability into a quality neighborhood asset, thereby achieving triple bottom lines of improved environment, economy and equity.”

“I want to congratulate Groundwork Lawrence for this significant recognition of their efforts to revitalize Manchester Street Park," said Congresswoman Niki Tsongas. "Their hard work has transformed a once blighted area into community green space along the Spicket River. Groundwork Lawrence was the inspiration behind legislation I introduced earlier this year to create a Groundwork USA Trusts Program that would provide grants to local communities for development programs just like this that address brownfields and blighted urban environments.”

“I am very excited about the recent recognition regarding the Manchester Street Park. It is well deserved as the community really rallied to improve this area and the park is a special gem in our City. All involved are to be truly commended,” stated Mayor William Lantigua.

Heather McMann, executive director of Groundwork Lawrence, said of the award, “We are extremely gratified that Brownfield Renewal has recognized Manchester Street Park with this important award. Nearly a decade of work – community activism, fundraising, planning, clean-up and building – went into the realization of Manchester Street Park. The reward for that work is a neighborhood reborn – the vision of a community now sustained by and sustaining this beautiful, healthy, thriving place.”

Manchester Street Park is one of the six sites along the Spicket River to be linked in the development of the Spicket River Greenway, a 2.5 mile “emerald bracelet” connecting new and existing parks through Lawrence’s lowest-income neighborhoods. Groundwork Lawrence was selected by the state of Massachusetts in July 2010 to manage the nearly $3 million project in conjunction with the City of Lawrence. When complete, the Greenway will afford a safe, healthy connection to schools, the downtown and the developing mill district with new jobs and housing. Alleyways in the neighborhood will link residential streets to the Greenway and its parks and community gardens. The project is slated for completion in 2012.

Brownfield Renewal bestows annual awards in three categories. The awards “honor individuals and groups that have implemented innovative, yet practical, programs that remediated environmentally impacted sites and stimulated economic development through job creation or retention, addressed a critical community development need and/or resulted in significant protection of human health or the environment. The awards showcase these successes and publicize them as models for other communities.”