50 Island Street, Suite 101
Lawrence, MA 01840
The Lawrence and Bennington Street project seeks to create a transformational vision for the former Cyr Oil property in Lawrence, MA. The site is located in the Arlington neighborhood, a community in Lawrence with a legacy of divestment, contamination, brownfields, vacant lots, limited green space, shade inequity, air pollution, and auto congestion. Most residents live in multifamily buildings and congregate outside on stoops and sidewalks during the warmer months. Groundwork Lawrence is organizing a neighborhood advisory group to understand the impacts of the site’s legacy as a former gas station, evaluate its current usage for parking, and examine residents’ desires for the future transformation of this site into a community-centered space. Participating members will receive capacity building and training in community organizing and will drive the reimagination of this site. Over the next few years, revitalization of this brownfield will reduce heat vulnerability and improve air quality in the neighborhood.
Since 2000, Groundwork Lawrence (GWL) has worked with the City of Lawrence, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and community partners to establish a park at the Ferrous Site in the heart of Lawrence’s Mill District. Located at the confluence of the Spicket and Merrimack Rivers on the Spicket River Greenway, this $2.75 million project and the park is used for passive recreation, educational/interpretive programs, and events. Increasing the quality of the riverfront habitat and using landform as art are priorities for this project, which will also be a model for urban ecological restoration.
As with other GWL park projects in Lawrence, the Ferrous site uses park development to spur economic development by resolving brownfield constraints. The Ferrous site was substantially completed in the summer of 2015, and formally opened in the spring of 2016.
The Ferrous site has improved the quality of life in Lawrence, providing a safe, open space for recreation and community, and green infrastructure investments, such as rain gardens, has reduced pollution from stormwater runoff. The site has since been recognized with several awards, including the American Society of Landscape Architects Honor Award for General Design in 2021.
Groundwork Lawrence operates several, inter-connected community food programs that combine fresh food access with education in an effort to reduce the city’s disproportionately high rates of obesity and diet-related disease and develop a local culture of health. In addition to GWL’s citywide network of community, backyard, and schoolyard gardens and urban farms that are cultivated and maintained by local resident gardeners and youth, GWL plans and manages Lawrence’s farmers markets and offers a Share-A-Share program to expand access to community-supported agriculture (CSA) shares and farmers market produce. GWL also offers healthy living programs that include cooking classes focused on integrating healthy foods into culturally appropriate meals.
In 2020, Groundwork Lawrence began contracting with local restaurants in its Grab n’ Go Restaurant Program to provide free meals to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. In just one year, over 79,000 meals were distributed to families in Lawrence. Not only did this initiative address community hunger, but it also supported the local economy, helping restaurants bring back employees.
Groundwork Lawrence, in partnership with the Merrimack Valley Workforce Investment Board, has turned Lawrence’s environmental challenges into opportunities for career and skill building. The Environmental Technical Training Program provides critical skills, awareness, and certifications necessary for participants to gain employment in Brownfields Remediation and Hazardous Materials Handling, Storm Water Management, and Recycling and Solid Waste Management fields.