Boston Genocide Memorial Park Gets Green Light

The Armenian Heritage Foundation's plan to build a memorial on the Rose Kennedy Greenway is under fire from community groups and city officials -- including Mayor Thomas Menino.

WATERTOWN (Combined Sources)–Rep. Peter Koutoujian and the Armenian Heritage Foundation (AHF) announced Friday that plans to develop a park memorial recognizing victims of the Armenian genocide on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway have been formally approved by the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority Boardn

The pirk proposal presented by the AHF will now proceed with final design and construction. The public process and approval is the result of an eight-year campaign to design a park to commemorate immigrant groups who migrated to the Boston area as well as acknowledge those ancestors who sought refuge from the Armenian Genocide.

The inclusion of the genocide memorial has been a source of heated debate for years, with city planners raising concerns about politicizing the greenway with a bevy of monumen’s and memorials to various historical causes.

But the agreement reached Friday will create a memorial sculpture that recognizes the contributions of all immigrant groups and makes special mention of the mass killings of Armenia’s by the Ottoman Empire during World War I.

“For eight years, we have worked to make this moment a reality. This park would not have been possible without the support of the Armenian-American community, the residents of the North End, and the leadership of Governor Deval Patrick,” said James Kalustian of the Armenian Heritage Foundation. “Thanks to years of hard work and commitment from our community, this park and its significance was realized and fully supported by the Patrick Administration.”

“As a member of the Armenian-American community, I am truly honored to be a part of this historic endeavor,” said State Representative Peter Koutoujian, who was the original proponent of the park. “My grandparents came to America from Armenia in search of a better life. This park will serve as a beautiful dedication to their experience and the experiences of all immigran’s who helped to make the city of Boston–and our nation great.”

The Armenian Heritage Park, a gift to the City of Boston and the Commonwealth from Massachusetts Armenian-Americans, is for all to enjoy. The Park is consistent with key themes of the Greenway: to acknowledge the history of Boston as a port of entry for immigran’s worldwide, and to celebrate those who have migrated to Massachusetts shores and contributed to the richness of American life and culture.

The park, which is near Christopher Columbus Park in the North End, will include a labyrinth of grass and granite stone with a single jet of water at its center. It will also feature a 16-foot-diameter reflecting pool.

The proposed wording on the sculpture reads, in part: "Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have offered hope and refuge for immigran’s seeking to begin new lives. . . . The sculpture is offered in honor of the one and one-half million victims of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923."

"May it stand in remembrance of all genocides that have followed, and celebrate the diversity of the communities that have re-formed in the safety of these shores."

The Armenian Heritage Park will be constructed at no expense to the taxpayer, and cared for and maintained in perpetuity.

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