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What happened with Rep. Decker and Memorial Drive / Riverbend Park?

Last year, our community was dismayed to learn that access to a local park was being held up because Rep. Decker was publicly saying one thing, but doing the opposite behind closed doors.

 

  • Since 1973, Memorial Drive has closed on Sundays to create Riverbend Park, which extends along the Charles River from Western Ave to Gerry’s Landing.

  • In 2020 and 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Riverbend Park was opened on Saturdays to create more outdoor space.

  • The opening of Riverbend Park for an additional day of the week was not without challenges. Residents of some neighborhoods in the vicinity of the park noted increased traffic on days Riverbend Park was open.

  • While community members proposed various solutions to this problem that would have enabled the park to stay open, others wanted to get rid of the park on Saturdays entirely.

  • In 2022, the State Department of Conservation and Recreation announced that it would stop Saturdays at Riverbend Park, only to switch course later that year following broad public outcry.

  • After listening to various stakeholders throughout the community, the Cambridge City Council voted 7-2 to support continuing the policy of opening Riverbend Park on Saturdays, yet the state mysteriously refused to move forward with Saturdays at the park.

  • After months of radio silence from Rep. Decker, a public records request from a concerned citizen showed that she was lobbying against the park behind closed doors.

 

Instead of openly working with the community to hear from residents on both sides and explore traffic signal changes to help alleviate pollution and traffic, Rep Decker chose to oppose the democratic will of the Cambridge City Council and the thousands of residents who had supported Riverbend Park.

 

Even in 2024, Rep Decker continues to operate behind closed doors with regards to Riverbend Park. In a February meeting with state officials designed only for opponents of Riverbend Park, alternative perspectives were told they would be “purged.”

 

This unfortunate set of events is just one example of how the lack of transparency harms our local community. No politician should be above the rules. Because Rep Decker has chosen to operate behind the scenes, she created a leadership vacuum, impeding collaborative solutions that could help Riverbend Park work better for everybody. 

 

Elected officials should listen to all of the voices in the community and seek opportunities to lead and bring people together. If somebody is making decisions on behalf of the community, the community should be a part of those decisions, or at the very least be able to see how and why decisions were made.

 

To learn more about Memorial Drive and Riverbend Park, watch this three-minute video:

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