NEWS

The People for Riverbend Park Trust is the non-profit steward of the DCR parkland along Memorial Drive from Gerry's Landing Rd. to Western Ave. Check here for regular updates on the status of the park and ways you can support our work to enhance the riverfront landscape.

Re-Scheduled In-Person Meeting in Saturday Road Closings, Thurs., 10/6, 6:30-8:00pm

 

DCR and the City have announced a new date for an in-person meeting to continue the discussion on Saturday road closings. The meeting will be held on Thursday, 10/6 from 6:30 to 8:00pm in the MLK School auditorium (enter at 72 Magee St). The Trust strongly supports keeping Memorial Drive open to people for recreational use on both weekend days.

Meeting details.

RESCHEDULED Pizza Picnic by the River on Thurs., 10/6 at 5:30pm

Given the rain on Sat., 10/1, the pizza picnic will be held instead on Thurs., 10/6 at 5:30pm. Join the Memorial Drive Alliance for an informal pizza social before the in-person meeting on 10/6 about the continuation of Saturday park days. We will gather in the grassy area to the west of the Weeks Footbridge opposite Plympton and DeWolfe Streets near Harvard Sq. We’ll also be distributing bike lights courtesy of MassBikes Lights Brigade

Family Play Streets Event on Memorial Drive on Sat., 9/24, 2-6pm

The Cambridge Community Development Department will host a Play Street on Memorial Drive next to the Weeks Footbridge this Saturday 9/24 from 2-6pm in the Riverside neighborhood. Play Streets provide a safe space and play materials for children to play freely and are an opportunity to meet neighbors in our outdoor open spaces. Knucklebones will be leading play activities. Please join us anytime between 2-6pm along Memorial Drive, and enjoy the open space together as the road is closed to car traffic over the weekend.

 

Community Meetings on Saturday Park Schedule (9/13 & 9/14)

 

Currently, Memorial Drive is closed to vehicle traffic from Gerry’s Landing Road to Western Avenue, from Saturday at 8 a.m. to Sunday at 7 p.m. to allow pedestrians, cyclists, and others to enjoy the riverfront roadway without cars. The City of Cambridge and the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) will be seeking input from Cambridge residents on the overnight and Saturday closures of Memorial Drive at two upcoming meetings:

  • CANCELED DUE TO RAIN Tuesday, September 13, 6 p.m. -7:30 p.m., Riverside Press Park, (River Street and Memorial Drive). In-person community meeting. Learn more.

  • Wednesday, September 14, 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Virtual community meeting. Learn more.

The Saturday road closings attract hundreds of people of all ages to the park and benefit people from all neighborhoods and from outside Cambridge. It is important that the decision makers hear from people who enjoy using the park on the weekends so that the Saturday closings will continue.

 

Please attend one or both of the meetings and send your comments to council@cambridgema.gov.

 

8/10/22 Saturday Road Closings Restored!

We are pleased that DCR reversed course and that Saturday (and Sunday) road closings will continue. The Memorial Drive roadway will close to cars at 8 am on Saturdays through 7 pm on Sundays. Thank you to everyone who wrote to DCR and elected officials asking them to rethink their decision to pause Saturdays.

Hope to see many of you at the Golden Hour Picnic on Sat. Aug 13 at 6:30 pm on the riverfront near Weeks Footbridge. Bring your own food. There will be a Frosty's ice cream truck. 

 

8/9/21 -- Saturday Road Closings Paused as of 8/13; Golden Hour Picnic still on at 6:30 pm, Sat. 8/13

 

We are surprised and deeply disappointed that DCR has abruptly changed course and paused the Saturday road closings to cars beginning this weekend (Aug. 13). The Riverbend Park schedule will revert to Sundays only, from 11 am to 7 pm, until a public meeting can be held after Labor Day to discuss the impact of Saturdays on traffic in the Riverside area. DCR's sudden and opaque decision to curtail a popular recreational amenity ignores an 8-0 City Council vote this year and an online petition that over 3,800 people have signed in support of closing Memorial Drive to cars for the full weekend. There are ways to lessen the traffic impact that have been suggested but not tried. DCR's decision seems especially rash in light of the extreme heat and drought we have experienced this summer and the public health benefits of providing more recreational opportunities along the Charles River.

 

Prior to DCR's about-face on Saturdays, the Memorial Drive Alliance had planned a picnic along the riverfront during "Golden Hour" on the evening of Saturday. August 13, starting at 6:30 pm. The picnic will still take place despite the cars on the road. Meet just to the west of the Weeks Footbridge (near the crosswalk at DeWolfe St) and bring your own food and blanket or chairs. This will be an opportunity to organize in support of restoring the Saturday closings. Please join us!

 

7/21/22 -- Riverbend Trust comments on DCR's revised plan for Memorial Drive improvements

 

DCR presented a revised plan for its Memorial Drive Phase III Greenway Improvements project on June 30: see presentation slides. Overall, we think the revised design responds to many of the suggestions and concerns voiced by the Trust and other community members earlier this year. We support the comments submitted by the Memorial Drive Alliance advocacy coalition, which you can read here. The Trust submitted its own set of comments, which you can read here. Points of support for the plan include:

1. The road diet, reducing vehicle travel lanes from four to two, for most of the project area. 

2. The effort to preserve and protect the culturally important allée of London Plane trees and addition of new London Plane trees (+22) and native trees (+59).

3. The elimination of proposed retaining walls, keeping the pastoral nature of the riverbank.

4. The elimination of Gerry’s Landing Road eastbound slip lane and increase in usable parkland.

5. The improved stormwater management features and the reduction of impervious surfaces.

6. The addition of two new pedestrian crosswalks, benches and other amenities for park users.

7. The restoration of sidewalks along the north side of Memorial Drive.

8. The improved pathway connections under and over the Eliot Bridge.

However, we agree with the MDA that the plan could be even further improved through additional traffic calming features and a reduced speed limit, greater physical separation of pedestrians and cyclists on the pathways, and retaining the natural shoreline topography without the intrusion of viewing platforms.

Next steps: The design is at the 25% level and will undergo further agency review and permitting including the completion of the Environmental Impact Report process this fall. There will be a public in late 2022 to review the 75% design and one next spring on the final design. Construction would not begin until spring 2024.

 

DCR announces 6/30 meeting on Memorial Drive redesign

DCR will hold a virtual public meeting on Thursday, June 30, from 6:00-7:30 pm, to discuss plans for its Phase III reconstruction of Memorial Drive between JFK St (Anderson Bridge) to the Eliot Bridge. This section includes much of the Riverbend Park area. The proposed changes include a narrowed roadway (from 4 to 2 lanes), new pathways, tree protections, and improved stormwater systems. The Trust supports the overall goals of the project but has joined the Memorial Drive Alliance's member organizations in calling for a different design approach that would fully separate pedestrians from cyclists, effectively slow car speeds to 25 mph, better protect the iconic trees, and preserve the historic pastoral landscape.

Register for the meeting. Public comment is due by July 21.

 

 

6/7/22 -- City Council tables Saturdays discussion

The Cambridge City Council tabled the discussion on eliminating Memorial Drive Saturday closings until a further meeting.  The topic may be taken up again on Monday, June 27, during the Council's final meeting before their summer recess.

6/3/22 -- Save Saturdays! Sign petition before June 6th City Council Meeting

Cambridge City Council will discuss eliminating Memorial Drive Saturday closings at its next meeting, Monday June 6th. Councillor Denise Simmons originally placed a policy order on the City Council's May 23 agenda proposing to eliminate the Saturday road closings. We know that many residents of all ages and abilities have enjoyed visiting Riverbend Park on both weekend days since 2020. Please sign the online petition and write to citycouncil@cambridgema.gov by June 6 to express your opposition to Policy Order #5.

5/27/22 - Trustee Jan Devereux speaks with The Harvard Crimson on Saving Saturdays

On the results of our recent survey: “People were really enthusiastic about having it both days,” Devereux said. “It’s viewed as a great amenity for the Harvard Square area particularly, but really, people come from all over.”

On her thoughts about the opposition to Saturday's in the park: "Devereux agreed that the city should consider various traffic mitigation measures, but said she does “not believe it is the job of the City Council to eliminate all inconvenience to drivers.”

While she acknowledged that public meetings could “guide remedies,” she said the complaints of a group of residents “shouldn’t be a way of delaying or canceling” Council initiatives.

Devereux referenced the thousands of signatures on the Cambridge Bicycle Safety petition as “a mandate.”

“It’s important for a climate — for the riverfront environment — that we stop treating it like decoration for a highway,” she said.

Full article here

5/20/22 -- Sign Petition to Keep Saturday Road Closings!

Councillor Denise Simmons placed a policy order on the City Council's May 23 agenda proposing to eliminate the Saturday road closings. We know that many residents of all ages and abilities have enjoyed visiting Riverbend Park on both weekend days since 2020. Please sign the online petition and write to citycouncil@cambridgema.gov by May 23 to express your opposition to Policy Order #5.

 

4/29/22 – Follow-Up Comments to DCR on Phase III Reconstruction Project

The Trust sent additional comments to DCR following its early April public site walk on the proposed redesign of Memorial Drive west of Harvard Square. We remain concerned that the proposed pathway design does not adequately separate people on bikes from other park users and that the additional paved and aggregate pathways along the narrow shoreline, long retaining wall, and viewing platforms on the riverfront would greatly diminish the uniquely pastoral feel of this section, which along with the historic and beloved allée of London plane trees, defines the area's cultural landscape. You may read the letter here.

4/24/22 Riverbend Hours Extended to 8 AM to 7 PM Both Weekend Days

The City announced that the Riverbend Park hours (when the road is closed to vehicles) have been extended to begin at 8:00 AM (instead of 11:00) through 7:00 PM on both weekend days. This great news for all who enjoy the relative serenity of early morning activity along the river!

 

4/17/22 – Riverbend Season to Begin on Sat., April 23, 2022

The Riverbend Park season will again include both Saturdays and Sundays this year, and the first closing of Memorial Drive will take place on Saturday, April 23. The park hours (when the road is closed to vehicles) are from 11 AM to 7 PM on both weekend days (Note: these are the original hours, and this year's start time has since been changed to 8 AM). We look forward to seeing you there!

 

Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui is leading an open bike ride on Saturday, April 23, that will include Riverbend Park on its route. Meet at City Hall at 12 noon for tacos and then ride with the group to Harvard Sq. to visit some local businesses. More info and RSVP on the Mayor's Facebook page.

 

1/30/22 – Riverbend Trust Comments on Memorial Drive Reconstruction Project

 

People for Riverbend Park Trust joined the Memorial Drive Alliance in submitting comments to the Mass Environmental Protection Agency (MEPA) on its Environmental Notice Form (ENF) for Phase III of the state's Memorial Drive Reconstruction project. Following a more than two-year pause in the public process for this project, the ENF came as a surprise to our group and to many others. One of our trustees reported on what is proposed for Cambridge Day. While the Trust supports DCR’s plan for a road diet that would reduce vehicular travel lanes from four to two, we are opposed to specific aspects of the design for the pathways and landscaping along the shoreline and are very concerned about protecting and restoring the iconic allée London Plane ("sycamore") trees. Riverbend's full comments are available here.

12/20/21 – Riverbend Park closed for winter; Funding Received for Olmsted Marker

Riverbend Park's 2021 season ended on Sunday, December 19, and Memorial Drive is open for vehicular traffic. We expect that the Park's 2022 season will begin in mid-April and are hopeful that Memorial Drive will again be closed to vehicular traffic on both Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.. We will post the 2022 opening date when it is definite.

 

We are excited to announce that the State has awarded funding for the creation and installation of a historical marker commemorating the vision of Frederick Law Olmsted and Charles Eliot in conceiving the original allee of trees along Memorial Drive; the first tree was planted on April 22, 1897. As 2022 marks the 200th anniversary of Omsted's birth on April 26, 1822, we are hoping to dedicate the marker at the start of the Park's 2022 season as part of the national celebration of Olmsted 200.

3/26/21 – Riverbend Park will be open on weekends starting 4/10/21

We are delighted to report that DCR announced its plans to open Riverbend Park (close Memorial Drive to vehicular traffic) on Saturdays, in addition to Sundays, during the upcoming 2021 season.  Specifically, DCR will close Memorial Drive to vehicular traffic to allow instead for pedestrian and cyclist use on Memorial Drive, in Riverbend Park, from Saturday, April 10, 2021 through Sunday, November 28, 2021 between the hours of 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.  Many thanks to all of you who advocated for this change! Enjoy!   

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12/22/20 – Memorial Drive will be closed every day from 12/24/20 to 12/28/20

DCR has announced that Memorial Drive will be closed to vehicle traffic from Thursday, December 24, 2020 at 10:00AM through Monday, December 28, 2020 at 7:00AM. Memorial Drive will be available for pedestrian and cyclist use during this period. Enjoy the holidays!

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11/24/20 – Riverbend Park will stay open through December

DCR has announced that Memorial will be closed to vehicle traffic, and available for pedestrian and cyclist use on Saturdays and Sundays 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM through Sunday, December 27, 2020.  Please note that if the weather is poor, DCR may keep Memorial Drive open to car traffic. Check DCR's website for advisories, and sign up here for email updates.

6/20/20 – Riverbend Park now open on Saturdays

 

As memorialized by law, DCR closes Memorial Drive to traffic on Sundays from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. from the last Sunday in April through the second Sunday in November.

We are delighted to report that in addition to the usual closing on Sundays, DCR announced that Memorial Drive will now be closed to vehicle traffic on summer Saturdays as well, during the same hours (11 a.m. until 7 p.m.), offering  more opportunities to get outdoors while still social distancing.

Wear a mask!

6/16/20 – the playlot is open!

 

DCR announced the opening of playgrounds to the public and opened the Riverbend Park playlot.  Please note that we removed the sandbox and other shared toys for safety and health reasons.  Please bring your own toys if you wish!  Thank you also for bringing them back home with you.
 

While you're there, check out the flowers in bloom! The lilies are especially pretty right now.

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Ways you can help

 

The People for Riverbend Park Trust still needs your support to continue maintaining the park! 

Learn about ways you can volunteer or donate

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