Daniel O'Toole also contributed to this article.
Malden is home to a number of parks and public spaces across the city including Fellsmere Pond, Pine Banks, and Coytemore Lea along with the bike path. However, none of these are as large as, nor as used as Devir Park.
On December 16th, 2021, the Devir Park Revitalization committee held an open Zoom meeting that discussed two design plans for the park. The budget for the project is currently around $2M, which was acquired from the city and more funds were acquired from the state and fundraising. The meeting was organized by Ward 2 City Councilor Paul Condon and leader of the Devir Park Revitalization committee and former reporter of The Blue and Gold, Jenelle DeVits.
“[Devir Park is] the most used park in the city and its largest. You can have a Little League baseball game going on along with a soccer game, so I don’t think from that perspective, it will be used more for events, but by the citizens, it will definitely be used more,” Councilor Condon said.
When talking about the origins of the revitalization project, Condon talked about how “it was an available project in the community and someone mentioned that we could take this opportunity, so I moved forward with the project with the community preservation committee.”
Two things that Condon said that he is extremely thankful for is the amount of work and effort DeVits has committed to the project and how she has essentially become the community leader, as well as Mayor Christenson with his financial commitment.
“We are lucky to have a resident, Jenelle DeVits, to share this with the committee and she is a driving force with the rest of us to move everything forward which involved our fundraising throughout the state and the community preservation committee. We’re really thankful for the mayor’s office too for backing the project to make sure it became a reality,” Condon stated.
DeVits explained the history of the project and what is to come. “I was approached by Joe Levine who is the director of the recreation program in Malden who said that councilor Paul Condon and he were putting a project together to revitalize Devir Park using funds from the city and other programs.” The two were “looking for someone in the area near Devir to be on the committee to help with the finances and getting it to fruition and they came to me to help and, the two of them asked me if I could lead the project for the neighborhood aspect.”
DeVits said that the first meeting of the project was “at the Irish American Club before Covid in August of 2019 to meet with the stakeholders and the investors along with other folks who wanted to join and talk through with what they wanted to see what a revitalized Devir would look like.”
Once the project was in motion, the committee needed to find the group that would create designs and layouts for this new Devir which is where Shadley Associates comes in. “We went back and hired Shadley Associates which is a design consulting firm those ideas from the meeting and other comments residents had. Those ideas became two design options that we then went back and discussed over a Zoom meeting,” DeVits said.
These ideas are a new toddler-friendly playground and expanding that area of the park, adding a water splash pad, LED lights, benches, trees, fitness stations, softball fields and soccer fields that are both high school regulated.
Mayor Christenson has helped the renovations in a huge way going beyond his commitment of $2M from the city. “Different staff from various departments have assisted with the project, while I have been directly involved with the financing piece of the renovation. Again, the great thing about this proposal is that Councillor Condon and the residents of Ward 2 have been leading the way on the overall concept since the beginning of the process.” These projects aren’t unfamiliar to Christenson since he has a large role “when it comes to the financing as it all has to fit within what we have available for resources.”
Mayor Christenson said he “especially likes that the renovations cover a wide array of uses. From our youngest to our athletes to adults looking for passive recreation, this project covers many areas and will be enjoyed by many.”
The project looks to break ground around the spring and is expected to be finished summer of 2024.