Department History

Public Parks Preservation
The Acts of 1882 of Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 154 established the rights of local communities to manage public park systems. In 1905, Town Meeting voted to authorize the Moderator to appoint a committee to examine public parks in Framingham. The report submitted in 1907 stressed the importance of preservation of public land along the Sudbury River, and the need for a town-wide playground system to manage recreation needs of school-age children.
Town Seal

Forming the Parks & Recreation Department

One very specific recommendation was for the immediate acquisition of the fair grounds owned by the Agricultural Society, now known as Bowditch Field. The modern concept of the department took shape during the Works Progress Administration (WPA) projects of 1935. Framingham was the recipient of extensive amounts of federal labor which was used to transform many of its publicly-held properties into formally designed parks, playgrounds, and athletic facilities. Upon completion of these projects, formal structure was needed to properly maintain and manage these facilities toward the intended purpose. The Parks and Recreation Department was formed at that time.

In the beginning, the department administrators adapted Department of Public Works skills and labor to maintain the park system. Most recreational programming was formulated by former town athletes who organized sporting events and leagues for the youths of the town, primarily for the male populations. In the 1950's and 1960's summer activities centered around the 3 town beaches and 26 supervised playgrounds. Adult activity consisted of men's basketball and softball leagues. All department funds came from an appropriation at the annual Town Meeting.

Current Parks & Recreation Department

Society has changed, and so has our department. The department's methods of operation, level of sophistication, diversity of services, funding, clientele, and level of public expectations is not what is used to be. No longer are recreational opportunities primarily geared to the young male athlete. Cultural diversification has increased the type and amount of interests among our population. Adults are more health-conscious and seek recreational activities and facilities for physical fitness. Seniors are more active and preschoolers need formally-structured play.  As residents needs and interests evolve, so do our programs.

We invite you to participate in our activities and to visit our parks. Each year, about 25,000 people register for over 300 formal programs designed for the preschool, youth, adult, special needs, and senior populations. Click HERE for more information about our current programs. Our programs include:
  • Adult day trips
  • Youth Summer Recreation Day Center
  • Ski, skate, and swim lessons
  • Fitness, health, and safety classes
  • Art and dance classes
  • Pre-school playgroups
  • Senior citizen exercise classes
  • Archery and martial arts classes