Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Recreation at Riverbend Park in Cambridge on Aug. 6. (Photo: Kate Wheatley)

Conversations about adding Saturday hours to Riverbend Park in Cambridge will restart, a state Department of Conservation and Recreation told The Boston Globe. In a Thursday article, it’s announced that commissioner Brian Arrigo will meet with several Cambridge local and state officials.

“It’s been a long road, but I’m confident we can do this while also addressing the concerns of abutters,” state Rep. Mike Connolly said online in reaction to the news. He thanked the state “for responding to our protests and committing to reengage the community on the desire to bring back Riverbend Park on Saturdays.”

Riverbend Park is created by closing Memorial Drive to car traffic, and a state law calls on it for Sundays. Many Cantabrigians have been asking for the state to add back the extra Saturday hours that they got used to during the Covid pandemic, but some residents in the neighboring Riverside area have protested that it causes too much traffic on side streets as drivers seek alternate routes. 

A release of documents in late July from a public records request said the neighborhood in general was opposed to the park keeping Saturday hours and that the City Council also decided against it – neither of which is true. The trove also revealed that the state’s own legal counsel said Saturday hours were allowed by law, which is the opposite of what was presented to Cambridge by DCR officials.

A spokesperson for the state agency blamed “uncertainty surrounding DCR’s legal authority,” the Globe reported.

Protests followed the state’s decision in April, and four city councillors called in early August for the state to reconsider and meet again on the topic, led by Patty Nolan, Dennis Carlone and Burhan Azeem and followed by councillor Quinton Zondervan.

“The records reveal extensive misinformation. The decision needs to be reconsidered,” Zondervan said.

The meetings are to begin in the coming weeks, said Globe correspondent Maliya Ellis.