Safety on The Greenway
08 Thursday Sep 2016
In 2014, we launched the Greenway Park Rangers Program. Greenway Rangers compassionately ensure a safe and welcoming park experience for all visitors. The need for the Greenway Rangers Program was first identified by Horticulture and Maintenance staff members faced with discarded drug paraphernalia, homeless people sleeping in the plant beds, aggressive skateboarders, and public safety issues for which they did not have the training to handle.
Two years in, we have two full-time Greenway Rangers funded entirely by Greenway supporters! Greenway Rangers are a small but mighty team. Covering varying shifts during Greenway open hours from 7am-11pm, they address park safety and serve as Greenway Ambassadors. Our Rangers greet visitors, assist them with directions, and provide information on events, park attractions, and our history. And while they do not have the jurisdictional authority to handle issues of law-breaking, they partner with the Boston Police Department, which is responsible for policing and investigating law-breaking.
Greenway rangers connect a wide range of people with the information and services they need, from the homeless and addicted, to visitors with limited English language skills, to the disabled and families with young children.
Many of Boston’s homeless residents spend time in The Greenway’s 17 acres. Our Rangers make a special effort to get to know our chronic homeless by name and are able to refer them to life-saving services. In the past year, our Park Rangers have checked on the health of 701 homeless individuals, providing 89 people with referrals to much needed services, and they have saved four lives with quick response to medical emergencies. The Rangers have also created resource materials that they distribute as needed that include a list of area shelters and service agencies and a telephone list for specialized assistance for veterans, pregnant women, children, teens, as well as the National Substance Abuse Helpline.
“We are making a difference. We’ve developed relationships with many local services for homeless populations, we communicate who is out there on The Greenway and what they need. I connected someone recently with a shelter and they are close to being housed,” shared Jared Prince, a Greenway Park Ranger since September 2015.
To be effective, Greenway Rangers rely on several community partners and attend regular meetings of the Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness, which convenes organizations that serve the homeless to ensure coordination of services at both the individual and community level. They regularly attend Greenway neighborhood meetings and have formed close relationships with the Chinatown and Leather District Neighborhood watch groups. They have formed strong, working partnerships with the Pine Street Inn, EMS, St. Francis House, Bay Cove Human Services, Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Boston Medical Center, and the Boston Police Department.
“We are addressing safety not only on The Greenway, but also in surrounding communities, our presence disperses any undesirable activity, and we are able to report problem activities to the Boston Police Department, and help clean up crime” explained Trina Alexknovitch, Senior Park Ranger since the program’s start in July 2014.
Greenway rangers also safely remove and dispose of drug paraphernalia found on The Greenway and train Greenway staff on protocols for hazardous waste removal. Since the program began, they have removed dozens of serious hazards from Greenway garden beds and play spaces.
In 2014, the Conservancy worked with a team of students from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government to develop a mobile app that enables them to record daily activities in the park in real-time. The app was finalized and put into use in mid-April 2015. Designed with geo-location capabilities, the app assigns GPS coordinates to each log, providing the Conservancy with a clear and accurate view of all park activity, allowing Rangers to identify locations where they are most needed.
Greenway Park Rangers are a vital part of our park. They ensure that The Greenway can continue to safely surprise, inspire, and delight all park visitors, whether they are coming to view public art, play in the fountains, take a spin on the carousel, peruse a farmers market, or take a stroll through our gardens.
Thank you Park Rangers!
Greenway Park Rangers make a difference, and you can help! Make a special gift to support park safety today!