Manchester Street Park

85 Manchester Street, Lawrence, Massachusetts

It is rewarding to see the overwhelming improvement in the quality of life for residents when a brownfield is transformed into a place for family, food and fun. It truly takes a dedicated community to brings these projects to fruition.

Colleen Kokast
Brownfield Manager Office of Brownfield Reuse New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

1. Please provide a brief overview of the project.

Manchester Street Park (the former "Covanta site"), located in Lawrence, Massachusetts, is a stellar example of equitable riverfront renewal and environmental justice. Once a hidden 5-acre parcel situated at the edge of a 19th Century mill complex on Stevens Pond and the Spicket River, the area suffered a legacy of contamination stemming from an incinerator that once operated on-site, where municipal trash was burned for nearly 20 years. At its peak of operation, the trash-to-energy facility emitted 800 pounds of mercury and 400 pounds of lead each year, an issue that caused chronic asthma and a host of other acute health problems for many low-income Latino residents and youth across Lawrence, particularly those living nearest to the facility. The site also sustained significant illegal dumping in the years following the incinerator's dismantling, which took place in 2001 thanks to the advocacy efforts of a grassroots community group called Lawrence Environmental Action Group (LEAG).

Along with being one of many brownfields located in a "weak market" community, the site's isolation and multiple environmental issues long posed challenges to its redevelopment. Today, thanks to nearly a decade of hard work and persistence on the part of Groundwork Lawrence, the City of Lawrence, residents, and numerous partners, the site is home to a 5-acre waterfront park that features such active and passive recreational amenities as play equipment for children aged 2-12, picnic tables and benches, a grassy open field, bilingual interpretive signage, 30 community garden beds, a scenic overlook and gazebo, native riparian plantings, and 80 trees. Completed in September 2009, Manchester Street Park is the second brownfield-to-park project completed along the Spicket River in Lawrence, and the fifth new or rehabbed park project the organization has managed. Together with Manchester Street Park, these site transformations have helped spur development of the Spicket River Greenway, a multi-use recreational riverfront trail connecting parks and tree-lined urban habitat, which runs through Lawrence's poorest and most densely populated environmental justice neighborhoods.

Groundwork USA,
6 Wells Avenue, Yonkers, New York

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