Update: Groundbreaking for this new and improved park will take place Monday, December 19th at 1pm.

BOSTON — Continuing efforts to enhance state park properties throughout the Commonwealth, the Baker-Polito Administration today announced several investments to the state parks systems’ Old Harbor Reservation area in the City of Boston’s South Boston neighborhood. In partnership with the Colin’s Joy Project and the Joyce Family, the Michael Joyce Memorial Playground at Marine Park will undergo a $1 million major renovation project, making the facility the largest and most accessible playground within the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s (DCR) diverse portfolio of properties.

“The Baker-Polito Administration is proud to be working with Colin’s Joy Project and the Joyce Family to rebuild the Michael Joyce Memorial Playground at Marine Park so that it can be used by children of all abilities for many years to come,” said Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Doug Rice. “It is our hope that the playground will delight the children and families who come to here, and that their happiness will serve as a reminder of the joy Colin brought to his family and all of those who knew him.”

The playground renovation project will include associated site improvements and new lighting to increase public safety during the evening hours. To assist with the costs, the Colin’s Joy Project has committed at least $600,000, DCR will match the funds through its capital plan budget, and an additional $100,000 has been dedicated for the project through the state budget. Work is scheduled to begin Spring of 2023 and will take approximately one year to complete. Specific improvements to the Michael Joyce Memorial Playground include:

  • The renovation for an accessible playground for age groups 2-5 years old and 5-12 years old;
  • Improvements to the facility’s lighting;
  • The installation of accessible pathways; and
  • The placement of bike racks.


“We are thrilled to see this project moving forward,” said Kerri and Brendan McGrath, founders of the Colin’s Joy Project. “This playground means a great deal to our family, to DCR who has worked tirelessly to help turn this vision into a reality, and to the many generous donors who have contributed to Colin’s Joy Project in support of a revitalized playground for the children and families of South Boston. Colin’s laughter and smiles will surely live on through this thoughtful design and partnership with DCR, our elected officials, the Joyce family, BSC Group, and of course, Colin’s Creativity Squad.”

“The Michael Joyce Memorial Playground was dedicated to my father in 2011 to celebrate his lifetime of public service,” said Mary Joyce-Morris of the Friends of Michael Joyce. “We thank Colin’s Joy Project for supporting the renovation of this much loved playground. It will be the most accessible playground in DCR’s system to welcome all children, which makes The Friends of Michael Joyce and the Joyce family so proud.”

Facilities like playgrounds assist in a child’s development of depth perception, spatial awareness, enhance gross and fine motor skills. Importantly, playgrounds also improve upper and lower body strength in children in an inclusive play environment.

“Thank you to Brendan & Kerri McGrath and Colin’s Joy Project for your thoughtful collaboration with Joyce family. Colin’s Joy Project brought energy and resources that helped push our statewide parks agency and the legislature to do more for our community,” said Senator Nick Collins (D-Boston). In the Massachusetts State Senate, Senator Collins sponsored legislation to create DCR’s trust fund dedicated to the long-term preservation and maintenance of Castle Island and Marine Park which now sits at $650,000.

“Over the past two years, we have seen firsthand the importance of our parks, fields, beaches, and public spaces,” said Representative David Biele, who secured $100,000 in the ARPA 1 surplus for improvements to Marine Park. “These improvements will enhance our parks and historic places while ensuring that future generations are able to enjoy them.  Thank you to all who made these investments in our community possible.”

Additionally, prior to the end of FY22, DCR invested over $500,000 for other state park properties in the area. These investments include the installation of a fence and gate replacement, and improvements at Evans Field, replacements and repairs of chain link fencing at the Sugar Bowl within Castle Island, sidewalk improvements from Babe Ruth Drive to Old Colony Avenue at Preble Circle, and the placement of new ropes and buoys at Pleasure Bay and the Castle Island Children’s Beach in order to create a safer experience for visitors using the waterfront.

DCR had also previously announced investments for Castle Island in future fiscal years earlier this year at the Pleasure Bay Public Safety meeting. The scope of these improvements will include repairs of the sinkholes along the causeway, sidewalk repair work along William J. Day Boulevard, construction of a new comfort station, repairs at the Coast Guard Signal Corps Building, repairs and replacement work to address the historic Castle Island seawall railings, and the construction of a new playground at Castle Island. The total cost of these improvements is approximately $6,000,000, which will be paid for through the agency’s capital budget plan. Furthermore, the agency will also conduct needs assessments for the Harry Uhlman Bandstand and the Farragut Statue located at Marine Park.


  1. Ellie Stafford August 11, 2022 at 6:08 pm - Reply

    Great to hear all the improvements here in South Boston much needed

  2. Joe Cappuccio August 12, 2022 at 10:12 pm - Reply

    Fantastic improvement for the community and slowing climate change with the planting of more trees. Go green!

  3. Joanne Luongo August 14, 2022 at 7:01 pm - Reply

    So awesome. It’s so nice to see these playground improvements and more trees for sure. Hopefully one day the beach is next . Better sand and new trees for shade. Thank you !!!

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