Jamaica Plain resident Anne Connolly, who recently was named to the Boston Parks and Recreation Commission (BPRC) by Mayor Thomas Menino, grew up in the housing developments of South Boston.
Those surroundings afforded little greenery, so her mother often shipped off Connolly and her three younger brothers with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Kool-Aid to the City parks.
“For city kids, that was fabulous,” said Connolly in a recent sit-down interview with the Gazette at J.P. Licks.
Connolly said her upbringing made her appreciate the City parks and is the reason it is “a natural” for her to become a Parks commissioner.
Connolly has strong ties to JP. She moved to the neighborhood with her husband around 35 years ago, leaving South Boston because of the busing crisis. Connolly lived across the Arnold Arboretum, which she visited as a child growing up, for 30 years until moving a few years ago to the Jamaicaway Tower.
She is also a board member of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy. Formerly, she was the treasurer for the Jamaica Hills Association for 32 years and was a board member of the Italian Home for Children.
Menino appointed Connolly to the Parks Commission in November. She said she has known Menino for more than 40 years and worked with him on all three of the failed mayoral campaigns of Joseph Timility.
The Parks Commission, which has four members, makes rules and regulations for all City parks and playgrounds, as well as reviews and approves construction projects within 100 feet of a park.
One regulation that the commission will decide on soon will be the ordinance banning smoking in City parks, which Connolly said she favors.
“I don’t want to be putting my blanket down next to someone who is smoking,” she said, noting that she has never smoked a day in her life despite growing up in an age when it was popular.
Connolly said she even finds it offensive when she walks out a door and people are smoking in front of a building.
Connolly said she brings to the commission her experience as a board member of different organizations and her 67 years of being a city resident.
“I know every park in the city,” she said, remarking she can visualize the street, neighborhood and environment they’re in.
She said that will be useful for when the commission reviews abutting construction projects, which she said is an opportunity to make sure developers “take care of our public areas.”
Connolly did point out that the building that she currently lives in—the Jamaicaway Towers—would not be able to be built today because of its affect on the Emerald Necklace.
“It is kind of ironic,” she said. “But I didn’t want to leave JP.”