The second in a series of three meetings regarding the Eden St. playground was held on November 7. The first meeting was well attended and community members provided feedback about what they do and don’t like about the park now.
Allison Perlman, Project Manager for Boston Park and Recreation, said that the major takeaways from the first meeting include that the overall layout is currently working for the community, the berms generally work, some people said they wanted the playground to remain a tot lot (for ages 2-5), while others said they wanted it to be for older children, and an update to the green space was important for people.
The purpose of this second meeting was to look at three different site plans with play equipment, and solicit feedback from the community about those. Kaki Martin, Principal at Klopfer Martin Design Group, led the community through the three different schemes.
Improvements to all options include: more/better lighting, more benches and seating, additional trees and lawn upgrade, fence and retaining wall at playground and border fence with abutters, and new fence, baseboards, gates, and court resurfacing for the hockey court.
Option one would slightly enlarge the existing play space as well as create a new pathway to get from the play area to the green space without exiting the park. Each option has a different proposed lawn option, but Martin said these could be mixed and matched among the different designs for a more customized option. Right now, there is a big dish tin the green space, so the proposal for option one would be to invert the dish. There would also be an accessible path on the berm with the memorial bench on the corner of Eden and Main Streets, as well as a “hill scramble” with stones, which Martin said would have “more of an informal play value” away from the playground.
Option two has an even more expanded play area with a shifted basketball court that would have reduced sidelines. It would have the same pathway from the playground to the green space, but the lawn would be enclosed with low knolls—“hugging the eclipse,” Martin said, which would give it another sense of enclosure. These knolls would only be a few feet tall, she added.
Option three includes a “more dramatic approach to expanding the play,” Martin said, and would allow another entry point into the park that is separate from the entry into the play area. Since the play area would be so large, the basketball court would have to be turned into a junior high school size court. The dish would be lost in the lawn and turned into a flattened lawn with a very slight slope. Martin said that the non-accessible path would be demoed and replaced with a planted slope, and there would have to be discussion about where to relocate the memorial bench with this option.
The key differences between these options are the changes to the basketball court, the size of the play area, possible water play, and the path to the top of the berm at Eden and Main, Martin said. As far as the “a la carte” lawn options go, “we’re constantly calibrating dollars and there are some cost implications here but we do want to know if you have preferences about it,” Martin said.
Community members were concerned about the topography of the lawn because of all of the events that take place on it. “We are aware of the variety of events that would take place at the park, and all of those events can happen in any of these scenarios,” Martin said.
There are also possible CPA funds for this project, so Klopfer Martin has come up with possible ways to spend that money, including garden beds (that would require a friends group to maintain), and a slide with a boulder scramble.
Sharon Komarow, an Associate at Klopfer and Martin, discussed the different play options for each of the different versions of the play area. Each of the three options would have a section for kids ages two to five and a separate section for kids ages five to twelve. Every option includes rubber surfacing for the ground—no sand will be used. Option three is the only option that includes swings, since they need a lot of room to operate safely and properly. The full details of the proposed play equipment can be found in the presentation on the city’s parks and recreation website.
A community member expressed his concern for the options that shrink the basketball court, as he believes the court is something that shouldn’t be an afterthought. “It needs to be though of as more than just a basketball court,” he said. He said that both teens and adults use this space, and it’s a flat, open area that’s conducive to play no matter what the weather is like.
He said he’s a “big advocate” for the playground area, and said his kids used it for years. But “my kids have grown, and I think a lot of people will get use out of the basketball court,” he said. “I wouldn’t think of the sidelines as wasted space—there is room for multiple activities.”
“That’s why we have options with different footprints,” Kaki Martin said in response. “There are tradeoffs; our proposals are these incremental adjustments.”
There was another comment about how kids can’t play on the green space because there are always dogs on it.
Perlman said she brought up the issue of the dogs to the Parks Commissioner and asked him how enforcement could be improved as well as whether or not there is an opportunity for a dog park in the future somewhere else in Charlestown.
After the discussion of the different options, community members were invited up to get stickers to place on five play pieces they liked, as well as which ellipse landform was their favorite and which option was their overall favorite.
There will be a final meeting in December to present the final design to the community, with construction to begin in the summer/fall of 2019 and opening in the spring off 2020. Perlman said the public survey is still open and community members are encouraged to provide their feedback. Teenagers are especially encouraged to weigh in, she said, because they haven’t heard much from that age group about how they use the park. Both the survey and the slideshow from this meeting are available on the city’s parks and recreation website.