By Melissa Moore-Randall
If the city looks a little brighter and more colorful these days, it is mainly due in part to the work of the city’s Project Planner, Elle Baker. As Project Planner for Strategic Planning and Economic Development, Baker and her colleagues have been responsible for a variety of projects that have brightened up the city’s neighborhoods. In an office located in the “penthouse” of City Hall, Baker along with Robert O’Brien, Director Strategic Planning and Economic Development, Julie DeMauro, Active Transportation Coordinator, Techrosette Leng, City Planner, and Frank Stringi, Chief City Planner, focus on resilience, open space and recreation, public art, beautification projects, and historic preservation.
Baker, who grew up in Saugus, now calls Revere home with her two children, Victoria and Myles making their home down the Point of Pines. Her department’s projects have included restoration and creation of many popular spots in the city including Oak Island Park, Beachmont School, Lincoln School Playground, Gibson Park, Gibson Community Garden, Garfield School Playground, Harmon Park, Paws & Play Dog Park, Sargent Street Mural, A Stroll Through Time Banners, Open Space and Recreation Plan, Annual Beautify Revere Event, Paul Revere School Playground, and the Little Free Libraries.
Currently, Baker and her colleagues focused on the reconstruction of the Curtis Park baseball field and basketball court, restoration of the exterior of the Revere History Museum, and The Sun Rises and Sets on Revere Photo Contest and Banner Project on Revere Beach and Ocean Avenue. Upcoming and continued projects include the Sonny Myers Park reconstruction, set to be completed by November, and the Northern Strand Community Trail which is set to begin in the spring of 2021.
When asked what her vision was for future projects, Baker said, “Moving forward it is vital to actively seek and secure funding for more robust resiliency and sustainability plans so we are prepared to take advantage of shovel ready grant opportunities. Some larger scale federally funded projects will be needed to protect Revere’s residents and infrastructure in the face of sea-level rise and climate change in the next century. We recently submitted an application to the Army Corps of Engineers with the support of Lynn, Saugus, Malden and Everett for a feasibility study to mitigate flooding throughout the shared watershed and coastline. I am looking forward to working with stakeholders on the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Action Grant for a Coastal Feasibility study for the Point of Pines and Riverside and also the Master Plan Grant from the Seaport Economic Council secured by Paul Rupp. We are a coastal community and offering significant community boating opportunities for residents is an opportunity we have not yet realized. We are also completing the City’s five-year Hazard Mitigation Plan fostering collaboration across all city departments.”
Baker looks forward to continuing the focus on the activation of public spaces like the Beachmont Community Garden and the Revere History Museum. The historic establishment of the Museum has been cared for by the Revere Society for Cultural and Historic Preservation. Baker said, “They have curated so many interesting pieces that tell the story of our city. Volunteers have done a tremendous job. As the exterior renovation is nearly finished, we continue to advocate for internal infrastructural restoration projects, updating electrical and seeking energy efficient updates and perhaps interactive exhibits. Ideally, this historic site will be prominently on the “Visitor Must See” list for every hotel guest in Revere.”
In addition, Baker hopes to increase public art and lighting installations both temporary and permanent throughout the city to brighten dark spaces and celebrate the city’s cultures and vibrant history amidst all the new development. Baker added, “A public art commission could help to drive and facilitate creative work. I would love to see some historic sculptures and will continue to add art and cultural aspects to public spaces like the lobster trap at Gibson Park, the American Red White and Blue Theme at Harmon Park, and the banners along the beach.”
The work of Baker and her colleagues will clearly continue to make the “new” Revere brighter and better for residents and visitors for years to come.