The City of Malden has awarded the much-needed funds to bulldoze and renovate Miller Park. Four steel girders topped with a roof of cinder block that became a massive lean to for drug dealers will soon be razed and replaced with trees, plants and pathways with painted hopscotches.
The unrecognizable remnants of a vandalized tot lot exchanged for new playground equipment and one of the few remaining basketball courts in the area will be completely refurbished. The neighborhood will reclaim its long needed park that many had feared entering and a new green space will belong to the community.
Originally called Harvard St. Park, it was renamed for YMCA outreach worker Robert Miller who devoted himself to the neighborhood youth. The park abuts the Malden Housing Authority and single family homes. Located in the city’s poorest area, Miller Park began its slow decline from neglect about 20 years ago because of the lack of city funds. Unlike other areas of the city that fall under the care of the Department of Recreation and Conservation that benefit from state funds, Miller Park had no special qualifications.
In its decline it gradually became taken over by drug dealers and others who were not friendly to the community in general. Large trees and high fencing kept it hidden from the street and police when cruising the area. It slowly became a threatening place and the community no longer felt safe to enter their own park.
In 2012 the City of Malden applied for a $1M grant from the TKF Foundation. Based in Maryland it supports the creation of public green spaces to promote health and well-being from nature. Part of the application process was to hold community input meetings. The landscape architect would then create a design based on that input.
Unfortunately, the grant was not awarded to Miller Park. However, Neal Anderson, Ward 7 Councillor lobbied the Mayor’s Office and the Malden Redevelopment Authority and was able to get $500,000 in Capital Improvement funds. Miller Park would receive $400,000. Then, together with Deborah Burke of the MRA and the new landscape architect, Pamela Shadley, of Shadley Associates, they regathered the ideas from the community input meetings and Ms. Shadley used these ideas to create a scaled down landscape design for the new park.
The renovation began on April 8 and will be completed in mid-June.
–Elizabeth Scorsello with a special thanks to Neal Anderson
Part 2: Park completed – Description
Part 3: Friends of Miller Park – How to Maintain Park for the Neighborhood