New Park To Be Named for ‘Bear’ Burke

A new city park at 212 Congress Ave. will be named after lifelong Chelsea resident James P. “Bear” Burke, who died in 2018 at the age of 75.

“As we advance this park through the design and construction process, we believe it is time to name this new addition to our inventory of open space in the city,” said City Manager Fidel Maltez. “We would like to propose naming it Bear Park, after James P. ‘Bear’ Burke.”

The city council unanimously approved the name at Monday night’s meeting.

“He worked very hard for the city for 30 years, and he was great to the children in Chelsea,” said District 6 Councillor Giovanni Recupero, adding that Burke would often help out kids in the city who needed help paying to take park in the Pop Warner football league.

Councilors Leo Robinson and Calvin Brown both said it was fitting for the city to name the name park after Burke.

“Mr. Burke was an integral part of the Chelsea community,” stated Maltez. “He was a public servant who worked at the City of Chelsea Public Works Department for many years, and a Knight of the Chelsea Knights of Columbus Council, where every year he hosted a Christmas party which gave presents to every child in attendance.”

Burke also served as a member of the Board of Directors of Chelsea Pop Warner, coached Chelsea youth baseball leagues, and was a long-time advisor for Explorer Post 109.

“Through his work with these organizations he mentored generations of Chelsea youth with wit, humor, and a gentle demeanor that made them all feel special,” stated Maltez. “He gave to his community from his heart and without a second thought, and Chelsea is a better place for it.”

The city acquired the property at 212 Congress Ave. in 2022 and hosted some activities there along with GreenRoots last year. Over that time, the city has received feedback from residents about what they want the new park to look like, Maltez said.

“We have used that information to work with a landscape architect and apply for grant funding, through the state’s Parklands Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities program, to make this park a reality,” according to Maltez. “Community members shared with us that they see this new park as a space for building community, for sharing time outdoors with their families and with their children, and for staying cool in the summer months. This feedback has led to a park design that emphasizes opportunities for gathering, shade structures and cooling features like splash pads, and of course, the planting of many new trees.”

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