We protect and improve access to open spaces in the Neponset Watershed.

The Neponset River Watershed encompasses a large swath of urban and suburban development that often impedes access to the Neponset River, ponds, and woodlands.

We work in partnership with city, town, and state leaders, as well as community groups and advocates, to support regulations that increase public access in long-neglected areas, particularly in environmental justice communities.

For more information about our Greenways Program, please contact NepRWA Greenways Director, Andres Ripley, at ripley@neponset.org

The preservation of undeveloped land and green space is key to:

  • the health and function of biodiversity
  • public health and well-being
  • improved water quality
  • reduction of heat islands
  • cleaner air
  • community character
  • public recreation

Learn More About Our Programs

Public Access

Acquiring public access easements allows everyone to enjoy parks and sections of the Neponset River in perpetuity.

Neponset Greenway Trail

Uniting Dorchester, Hyde Park, Mattapan, and Milton, the Trail provides valuable access to the outdoors in an urban area.

Conservation Restrictions

Placing conservation restrictions in designated locations helps to protect the land and waterways in the Watershed.

Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC)

Three significant and unique locations in the Watershed have been designated as ACEC sites.

Access Challenges

Doyle Park Project, Hyde Park

After decades of neglect, the former Doyle Playground in Hyde Park is finally getting a facelift.

Doyle Playground, now referred to as Doyle Park, runs along the Neponset River in Hyde Park. Having fallen into disrepair over the past few decades, the space that was once a community playground had become overgrown and unwelcoming, with many nearby residents unaware of its history.

A New Park Design in the Works

  • Since 2017, Southwest Boston Community Development Corporation (SWBCDC), the Solomon Foundation, Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), POWHER (People of Hyde Park Wanting Equal Representation), East River Street Neighborhood Association, and NepRWA have worked together on a plan to turn Doyle Playground into a new park, called Doyle Park.
  • In 2018, new park designs were drafted, and through strong advocacy from neighbors and community groups, MassDCR pledged to finance the park’s design and development. They engaged Offshoots, Inc., a Charlestown-based “productive landscape” firm, to finalize the design. Offshoots integrated numerous elements requested by community members, including the addition of new trees, benches, a stage, and a riverfront walking path. The design also encompasses native plants and natural filtration strategies to tackle the issue of stormwater runoff entering the Neponset River.
  • In 2021, a “Doyle Park Celebration Day” was organized for local community members to celebrate the park with music, food, yard games, and more.
  • In February 2022, key neighborhood stakeholders were presented with the new draft plan.
  • On April 13, 2022, Offshoots presented the most updated plans to the public for feedback.
  • In January of 2023, NepRWA and key stakeholders met with DCR to further discuss the natural playspace elements of the park design. 
  • In May 2023, NepRWA partnered with the local community to host Doyle Park Day, where we celebrated the upcoming revitalization of the space and showed the nearly completed designs to the public. 
  • August 2023, DCR completed most of the permitting for the project and hopes to hire a consultant team in the winter of 2023 to start construction in the spring of 2024. 

Throughout the redesign process, several cleanups and mural painting projects were conducted to make Doyle Park more inviting to the public.

Edgewater Drive, Mattapan

Along Edgewater Drive in Mattapan, there is a 1/2-mile-long solid stone wall that separates neighbors from the Neponset River.

Between the wall and the River lies a beautiful stretch of woodlands that could be used for walking, relaxing, and enjoying nature. Currently, there is only one small inconvenient entrance in the entire 1/2 mile wall.

With support from NepRWA and increased community and political support, this site should soon see improvements.

The ENA has advocated for many years for more openings in the wall and better access to the River. With support from NepRWA and increased community and political support, the MA Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), the land and wall owner, agreed to make the Edgewater Greenway one of their capital projects in 2021.

Since 2021, DCR has led a robust community process to gather input on what people want to see in this project. With multiple wall openings, canoe launches, river overlooks, benches, and potential future bridge connections over the river to the Neponset Greenway, this project will provide the community with safe access to a beautiful stretch of the Neponset. DCR is hoping construction for the project will start in the spring of 2024.

Watch the video to learn about the “wall” from ENA organizers, Vivien Morris and Laray Brison.

Beyond the Wall

Beyond the Wall is a community project spearheaded by the Edgewater Neighborhood Association (ENA) of Mattapan, which seeks to improve residential access to the Neponset River.

Visit the “Beyond the Wall” webpage to view outreach materials designed by students from the Colleges of the Fenway Environmental Forum, Haley Johnson, Ryan Kalayjian, Maura Raymo, and Angela Szarek. Created in 2021.

To reach our goal of improved River and park access, we hope to:

  • Connect the Neponset Greenway from Tenean Beach to Morrissey Boulevard, and at its southern endpoint to the Blue Hills and Warner Trail.
  • Organize events along the Greenway Corridor to welcome surrounding communities. 
  • Remove barriers and fences that separate neighborhoods from the Neponset River.
  • Protect undeveloped waterfront land from development.
  • Place conservation restrictions on open land.
  • Build trails and walkways on public land.
  • Convince developers to dedicate waterfront areas to public purposes like walkways and boat launches.
  • Restore boating passage by removing or modifying obsolete dams.
  • Facilitate boat rentals on the Neponset River.
  • Promote recreational areas with better signage.