Petition Aims to Rename North End Park After Mayor Menino

Michael Cohen came up with the plan to honor the late elected official just one day after he passed away.

When Tom Menino passed away last week after battling cancer, the city came out in full force to honor the longest-serving mayor in Boston’s history.

Hundreds lined up during the season’s first snowfall, and waited to pay their respects as Menino lied in state at Faneuil Hall, MassDOT lit up their highway signs along I-93 with a thank-you note, and the Bruins paid tribute by shining Menino’s name in large, bright letters across TD Garden’s outdoor walls.

And although those sentiments were heartfelt and well received—not to mention deserved—for some they weren’t enough. That’s why Boston resident Michael Cohen decided to start a petition to get a more permanent memorial put in place on behalf of the mayor somewhere in the city he loved so much.

“I heard about Menino’s tragic death at about 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, and I was really kind of shocked,” said Cohen. “Then I immediately started thinking about what we should do for this guy who has arguably been the most important mayor in the history of the city.”

What Cohen came up with was the idea to rename the Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park in the North End after the mayor. “I was walking through the park, and thought, ‘I can see the Innovation District from here, I can see the skyline that he was so instrumental in improving from here, and I can walk to [Menino’s] office from here in four minutes. Wouldn’t this be a great park for him?’”

Without hesitation, Cohen created a petition to get the concept on people’s radars, and sent a letter to Mayor Marty Walsh’s office, asking for guidance and support on the matter. “I sent out some emails, and checked to see how to do an online petition, wrote it up, and off it went,” he said.

Within days, more than 1,200 people signed on, supporting the initiative, and Walsh’s office even got back to Cohen. “They acknowledged the proposal, and said that someone from the parks department would reach back out to me,” he said.

Until they do, Cohen is hoping to rally additional support for the renaming of the park, which sits between the Boston Marriott Long Wharf, Atlantic Avenue, and Commercial Wharf.

Cohen said the spot is fitting considering Menino helped open up the Rose Kennedy Greenway following the Big Dig construction, offering an expansive network of public parks for people to enjoy, and parts of Boston’s growing skyline, which changed considerably in the 20 years Menino was in office, are also visible from that area.

“It seems that there could be no more fitting tribute than the renaming of this prominent park that anchors the Greenway that is such a symbol of the city he worked tirelessly to reshape,” Cohen said in his call out for support.

Cohen said he “doesn’t know” what the answer will be from the city about his request, but so far he’s pleased with the attention it’s getting. “I’m just a guy with an idea, and so far so good,” he said. “I want to reach 10,000 signatures, and then I’ll print them out and bring them to Walsh and say, ‘I’m the guy who wrote the letter and here’s people who agree with me.’ Then, hopefully, we can find out who the person in charge of naming parks is and get it done.”

Below is the letter Cohen sent to Walsh’s office:

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