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Macdonald Park

Shadley Associates worked with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation on renovations and updates of Torbert Macdonald State Park, the largest park in the Mystic River Reservation.  Located in Medford, the park was built on dredge spoils from the construction of Interstate 93 in the 1970’s and provides critical public open space and waterfront habitat.

 Shadley Associates and our team of environmental specialists and engineers prepared an updated Master Plan for the entire park identifying new improvements within this 63-acre site.  The SA team designed a River Overview at the water’s edge, a new pedestrian park entry, a playground, labyrinth, pollinator meadow, and site-wide wayfinding signage.  Approval from the Medford Conservation Commission was received in 2016 and the first phase of construction, replacement of approximately one mile of asphalt walkways, was completed that year.

The second and third final design/construction phases created the River Overview and new Park Entry.  The Overview, located in the heart of Macdonald Park provides direct access to the Mystic River and is framed by a sweeping granite seatwall with custom wildlife engravings, an accessible pathway to the water’s edge, a picnic area with accessible tables and benches, and new landscaping including rain gardens for stormwater management.  In addition, a new Park Entry was completed in 2019 and includes a small plaza space with a granite seatwall, benches, bicycle parking, HC parking, a wayfinding kiosk, and new landscaping. 

Shadley Associates is currently working on a Vegetation Management Plan that will inventory existing vegetation species and health, identify invasive plant species, and evaluate existing soils.  The park was created in the 1970’s and after 50 years many of the trees are succumbing to new pests and diseases and approaching end-of-life.  The new management plan will remove trees and replace them with new species that are resistant to current pests, that increase diversity, and that provide habitat, shade, and address climate change.

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