Illegal bike path found in Parkman woods

A “rogue operation” by unknown dirt-bikers created an illegal dirt-bike path in the woodlands next to the Francis Parkman Memorial. The City is saying it has not given anyone permission to build such a path and are looking into fixing the problem.

The Parkman Memorial woodland is located next to Jamaica Pond and is a triangular piece of land formed by Francis Parkman Drive and Prince and Perkins streets. The bike path leveled the landscape at some areas, exposed tree roots and formed a ramp.

The Gazette was first made aware of the path from John Iappini, who is a member of the Jamaica Pond Association and a park overseer for the Emerald Necklace Conservancy. He said in an email to the Gazette that he and Gerry Wright, chair of the Friends of Jamaica Pond, were on a walk several weeks ago when they noticed the path.

“The primary damage is to the tree roots of about a dozen trees,” said Iappini. “This damage will surely result in the loss of these trees unless these roots are re-soiled and the entire area is restored to its natural state. These trees are an integral part of the Hellenic Hill canopy overlooking Jamaica Pond, which is appreciated and treasured by thousand of park users.”

Ryan Woods, spokesperson for the Boston Parks and Recreation Department (BPRD), said the City is aware of the situation and is looking at options to fix the problem.

“There was no communication or permission was granted. It is a rogue operation, albeit an impressive one,” Woods said in an email to the Gazette. “Please be assured we are working on finding a solution to this problem. The interim commissioner and his staff have been discussing this and will continue to address the best we can.”

He said that the BPRD has already begun pruning the area to open up viewlines of the woodlands. Woods said the City is currently calculating the costs of the restoration.

Woods said BPRD has removed two similar sites along the Emerald Necklace in the past 10 years. A large homemade dirt bike area in the Riverway park near the Fenway T Station was removed by the MBTA in 2007.

Boston appears to have no legal public spaces for off-road or BMX-style stunt bicycling. A long-planned skateboard and BMX park in Cambridge beneath the Zakim Bridge is slated for a groundbreaking this year.

The homemade bike path forms a ramp in the Parkman Memorial area. (Gazette Photo by Peter Shanley)

The homemade bike path forms a ramp in the Parkman Memorial area. (Gazette Photo by Peter Shanley)

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