The Eden Street playground is one step closer to its $1.1 million face lift. The third and final community meeting regarding playground improvements was held on Dec. 13, with many of the same community members in attendance as the first two meetings.
Kaki Martin of Klopfer Martin Design Group presented the final plan to the community, which she called a “hybrid plan,” as it was based off of community feedback from three options presented at the previous meeting in November. The landscape architecture firm has chosen to combine elements from all three of those options for the final design.
Martin said that the playground area was the area that most of the community felt needed the most attention, so the footprint of that site will be expanded. There will be an entrance into the park off of Mead Street, where the gate to the actual playground will wrap around the corner—it’s “not a direct shot from street into play,” Martin said. There will also be another opening in the fence for a pedestrian connection to the rest of the area. Both entrances to the play area will have gates, so parents will not have to worry about little ones escaping via two different exits.
Three different options for the lawn space were presented at the previous meeting, and Klopfer Martin has chosen to have a lawn enclosed with low knolls, as some privacy inside the park was something the community expressed interest in.
Sharon Komarow of Klopfer Martin said that an accessible path will be added, as the current path does not meet accessibility standards. The new path is longer and has a more consistent, less steep pitch. There will also be a more informal play experience provided by a “hill scramble,” which consists of small boulders placed in such a way that children can climb on them.
Komarow also said that lighting will be upgraded throughout the park. To save money, they will be keeping the same posts but replacing the fixtures so they will have better light throw and be more energy efficient.
Though it is not currently in the budget, the architects have come up with some possible additions that could be funded by CPA money. One is water play, which could potentially be located within the playground or somewhere closer to the lawn. The other is garden beds, which would require a Friends group for maintenance.
As for the playground, there will be three zones: an ages 5-12 zone, which will be located closer to the street, an ages 2-5 zone that’s farther away from the street, and then a quieter play zone that will have a quieter area along with some seating and tables.
The 2-5 zone will have a main structure with a little slide, things to explore on the piece, and a little climbing ladder. Also in that zone will be a mound that meets the retaining wall, which will have a climbing route with a slide on it, as well a little spinner and a spring rider piece.
Swings were a huge topic of discussion at previous meetings. In the end, the architects have decided to compromise and add bucket swings just for the youngest kids. “Swings take up an enormous amount of space, so we just went with two younger kids swings as a compromise,” Komarow said.
The 5-12 zone will have one large structure “with a lot of different ways to climb,” Komarow said. It features a wide, rubber membrane that kids can slide down or climb up. There will also be spinners that are sized for bigger kids, as well as a group basket swing. The basket swing would be the piece that gets eliminated should water play be put into the playground area, but overall feedback from the meeting was generally against having the water play be inside the playground itself. It is not taken off the table completely to be considered for an area in the passive space.
The architects said that all of the new play equipment fits within the strict standards set forth by the City for safety and durability.
One parent said that there are other options for water play in Charlestown, and he said that though he would bring his children to water play at the Eden Street playground, it is not a necessary addition.
The quiet zone would include benches, picnic tables, and a space for strollers, as well as a little table, playhouse, and kitchen for young children. All of these would be secured to the ground so they cannot be moved elsewhere within the park. There will also be new tables and chairs by the hockey rink which will feature chess board tabletops.
Klopfer Martin said that they are still figuring out where to put such things as water bottle filling stations/fountains and bike racks, as these are things people said they wanted. They are also looking at upgrading the existing water fountain at the hockey rink.
As with the other meetings, there were several comments regarding dogs on the lawn area. Allison Perlman, Project Manager for Boston Parks and Recreation, said that this plan does not address the dog issue, as it is one of enforcement. She said she spoke with the Parks Commissioner about what might be able to be done in the future, but it’s not part of this plan.
“You guys have done a beautiful job,” one neighbor said of the final presentation. Many of the meeting’s attendees were parents who seemed satisfied and excited about the new play equipment.
Next steps for the Eden Street playground include design and bid document development, which is set to happen in the winter and spring of 2019, with construction following in the summer and fall.