Why Fix Up Newmarket Square's Clifford Park? For Our Children.

Juma Crawford, President, Lewis Family Foundation

Published in the Boston Business Journal

Everyone in Boston should drive down Massachusetts Ave, past Albany Street and the Boston Medical Center and into Newmarket Square. That is where you will find Clifford Park, sitting directly across from Victoria’s Diner in Roxbury. While Boston is booming, our children in Newmarket Square in Roxbury confront the symptoms of the worst opioid epidemic in 30 years. Local sports teams and elementary schools play in Clifford Park despite security concerns that have been overlooked for years:

  • Schoolchildren are pricked by hypodermic needles buried in woodchips on the playground;

  • Teachers at the Mason Elementary School pick up human feces on school grounds before the children arrive;

  • Student athletes jump over needles during practices and games.

This seven-acre park would not be acceptable for our children in ZIP codes like 02456, or 02210, or 02115. But this is 02119. This is Roxbury. We must stop looking the other way.

Our children deserve better.

We believe the solution is a public-private partnership focused on positive outcomes for children. This partnership would bring philanthropy, strong nonprofit partners, gutsy business leaders, and city government together to solve this problem TODAY – not tomorrow. If we succeed, we will build a safe, beautiful, well-maintained multi-use stadium and park that serves over 5,000 young people a year.

Our children deserve better.

Here is what needs to happen now to help our children and build this partnership:   

  • Invest in protective fencing that surrounds the perimeter of the park

  • Clean up the tot lot and expand it for programming – children have been pricked by needles

  • Invest in new lights for the field to make it safer to play and patrol

The city of Boston has a long history of revitalizing public spaces through public-private partnerships. We believe communities like Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan are Boston’s most treasured places. It is time we made this investment in Roxbury. Mayor Walsh and his team have been extremely supportive of seeing this park become one of the safest and best parks in Boston. The city cannot do it alone. We need the larger business community outside of Newmarket Square to step up.

Our children deserve better.

The time is now to make the impact and change for all young people regardless of their zip code. It is time for all of us to step up — philanthropy, business, and the city to truly come together to make Clifford Park and the areas we care about safe. We can’t wait any longer and lose any more children to the needles, and gun violence.

Our children deserve better.

Juma K. Crawford is president of the Lewis Family Foundation.

Daniel Deleon