Representatives of the Boston Parks and Recreation Department and Friends of the East Boston Greenway celebrated the renaming of the Greenway in honor of the late community activist Mary Ellen Welch. Welch, who passed away at age 77 on March 7 of this year, was a lifelong local resident, beloved second grade school teacher for 47 ½ years at the O’Donnell Elementary School, and preeminent community activist and mentor who either founded, led, or served on the board of some of the most influential community groups in East Boston.
In addition to countless other neighborhood improvement projects, Mary Ellen Welch played a key role in identifying an abandoned railroad line as the perfect place for a protected walking and biking path and new parkland connecting neighborhood residents to Boston Harbor and Constitution Beach.
As one of the founders of the East Boston Greenway Council and the Friends, Welch, together with her neighbors, worked for decades on mitigation for parkland lost to Logan Airport, leading to the creation and extension of the Greenway through the cooperative efforts of the Boston Parks and Recreation Department and the Boston Natural Areas Network (BNAN).
“She represented our best values,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. Despite Mary Ellen’s insistence that she was just one part of a grassroots movement, support for the naming of the Mary Ellen Welch Greenway was overwhelming with the proposal ratified by the Boston Parks and Recreation Commission on October 7, 2019.