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.
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.
6/14/22 -- 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 email@example.com 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
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!
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.
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.