By Seth Daniel
Though there were some delays to delivering the final product, neighbors and tourists alike rejoiced on Monday, Sept. 12, when the City’s Parks and Recreation Department removed the barriers and re-opened the Training Field after about one-year of closure for rehabilitation.
“The fences came down this morning and the rest will come down by the end of the day,” said Ryan Woods of the Parks Department on Monday morning, Sept. 12. “We’re glad it’s open in time for the big Halloween festival they have in the Training Field every year. The community really enjoys that space and we’re glad to have it refurbished and, now, re-opened.”
Diane Valle, president of the Friends of the Training Field, said she was very happy to see the fences finally come down.
“We’re happy everybody is going to use it and love it,” she said. “It is beautiful and we want to make sure to keep it that way. We’re grateful to the mayor, City Council and the commissioner and all the community groups that made it happen. People have already been going in and it’s really a breath of fresh air. We’re need to have that in the neighborhood. It’s so important to have green space in your neighborhood.”
The City park, which is also on the Freedom Trail and is heavily used by neighbors looking for quiet time in a green space or an area to walk their dogs, was in dire need of upgrades when it was finally approved for construction last year. Work began just before Halloween and was supposed to be completed by May.
However, though much of the heavy work was completed in early summer, the Field remained closed all summer due to the fact that the Parks Department wanted to let the new grass planted in the Field take hold.
Grass was a big issue at the Training Field because the heavy use by the increasing dog population in Charlestown had worn down much of the open space in the Field.
“Our plan was to open the park in June, but the grass wasn’t going to be ready yet because you need about 90 days for that,” said Woods. “They deemed that if they took the fences down and opened the Field, they would have to re-fence the park and restrict the areas where the grass was at. That was going to be too much and if we let people walk their dogs and picnic on the grass, it wouldn’t have grown correctly and then the whole project would have been useless. We understood the neighbors’ concerns due to not seeing a lot of work being done, but we needed to allow time for the grass to take hold.”
On that Monday evening, already people were sitting on the grass and picnicking or relaxing.
Tourists were spotted walking through the Field once again trying to figure out where to go to find the Monument – and pausing for a moment in the Field to take in the beauty and the memorials.
Valle said the key will be, this time, to make sure that dog owners are operating in the park responsibly. To that end, the Friends of the Training Field have allied with Charlestown Dogs, a new group in Town promoting responsible pet ownership and behavior.
“The Friends are working closely with Charlestown Dogs,” she said. “We are really asking people to be mindful of the signs that remind them dogs have to be leashed and you have to pick up after them. We are also asking that they be mindful of the urine too. Charlestown Dogs has suggested that pouring water on those spots could help neutralize the chemical. A few dogs wouldn’t be a big deal, but when you have the hundreds of dogs in there that we have, that’s a lot of chemical. We’re all in this together.”
She indicated that they are in close contact with the City to get dog waste bag stations put in the park and that those are likely to be forthcoming. The Friends have offered to pay for the bag stations, but they have to be installed and approved by the City.
Woods said it is a good time for parks in Charlestown, noting that the John Harvard Mall will open in October, and that Eden Street had renovations last summer.
“It’s a good time for parks in Charlestown,” he said. “Parks are being brought up to code and fully usable. That’s great because six or seven years ago that wasn’t the case.”