Monday, January 15, 2018

In South Framingham, ‘hope springs eternal’ for cleanup of polluted sites

From the Metrowest Daily News
By Jonathan Dame, Metrowest Daily News Staff

Jan 14, 2018 - On the first Saturday after the Fourth of July in 2013, Judy Grove visited Pelham Apartments to learn for herself: Where do the children living in the subsidized housing complex go to play?

During her visit, she suggested a few possibilites, including nearby Mary Dennison Park.“Where’s Mary Dennison Park?” Grove recalled one the kids asking.

For the past six years since becoming Town Meeting Chair of Precinct 15 and recently elected as City Councilor for District 8, Judith Grove has worked tirelessly to bring attention to the concerns of the Southside conditions and its residents. Judy has brought awareness of the extent of contamination such as at Mary Dennison Park and the land at 350 Irving Street. She has fought for safe and healthy playgrounds and improve recreation for children. Judy has been persistent in her efforts to revive a 15 year effort and has been successful in making a skatepark become a reality. The news article that has appeared on the front page of the Sunday Metro West Daily News has detailed her work over the years. There are encouraging signs that problems in the Environmental Justice neighborhood will be corrected.

She told them the park was a half-mile away from where they lived in South Framingham, and that it had a few softball fields and basketball courts, and a playground for toddlers.

“Oh, it has a name?” the kids said, according to Grove. “Oh, we don’t go there.”

This was Judy Grove’s first foray into Framingham politics. Town Meeting had just rejected several citizens petitions for community and recreational programs in South Framingham. So she and others set their sights on redesigning Mary Dennison

The group eventually collected hundreds of signatures to improve the park, proposing picnic tables and a paved walking path, skateboarding ramps and a playground for older kids. They had momentum.

Then the town discovered the park’s soil was contaminated with lead. The tot lot was temporarily shuttered, its dirty soil hauled away and replaced, but most of the 17 acres were considered safe enough to keep using.