HYDE SQUARE—Upgrades in safety, equipment and appearance to the play areas, basketball court, and stage have been proposed for the renovation of Mozart Park.
Architects from Crosby, Schlesinger and Smallridge (CSS) presented their final design for the Boston Park and Recreation Department’s (BPRD) renovation of Mozart Park to a crowd of fewer than 20 including a group of five youths inside the vestibule-sized basement of the United Baptist Church on Centre and Mozart streets Monday evening, Sept. 11.
The meeting was the third in a series of three. At previous meetings CSS presented three possible plans for community members to discuss with the parks department and CSS. There was also time for community input. It became clear at these meetings that one design was preferred, according to Angie Murray, the BPRD’s project manager for the park renovation.
“There was a sense that people like the current park and the spray areas,” said Murray, “and fewer changes [in the core design] equal a more lenient budget.”
Members of the community present at the meeting appeared pleased with the park’s proposed final renovation design.
“We have been part of the process since the beginning,” said Maanav Thakore of the Hyde Square Task Force (HSTF). “They were responsive to community input. Their plans reflect the community and youth input, which is refreshing. But the true test is what ends up.”
The park’s new design resembles the current set-up but with many safety and equipment upgrades. One big change is a plan to divide the current play area into two separate play areas.
In the new plan, one area is geared towards children ages 2-5. Tic-tac-toe, a double slide and a mini-summit climber were among the ideas for play equipment in the area.
The other play area is designed for kids ages 5-10. A spider web climber, a slide and sound chimes were presented in the design as possible new equipment for the area.
“The play structures are not just for fun,” said Murray. “They are about learning too, about the world and about you in a safe way.”
Rubber surfacing, which increases safety and is common in new parks throughout Boston, will line the play areas. Vinyl chain-link fencing will be put along the back edge to enclose the area.
“Now the mothers won’t have to worry about their kids running out of the park into the street,” said Josh Burgel, landscape architect from CSS, drawing laughter from the crowd.
Plan’s show resurfacing the entire basketball court, replacing the hoops and painting new lines on the court, including lines for volleyball. Plans also called for new fencing around the basketball court and the addition of another gate.
Other upgrades include refurbishing the tables outside the basketball court with composite wood. Proposed plans have chess or some other game on the surface of the table in order to draw more people to the area in an engaging learning manner.
Community members asked if additional lighting could be added to the park to enhance security. CSS recognizes this wish but must first speak with parks department electricians, they said.
Further changes called for the removal of a tree from the front corner of the park to create more open space. Cobblestone will line the entrance. The benches along the entrance will be refurbished with composite lumber and the hand rails on the front steps of the park will be refurbished and upgraded, according to CSS.
At previous meetings, members of the community voiced concerns over the back corner of the park. The corner is an uninviting part of the park, very much so at night they said.
In order to open up the back corner of the park the plan proposed to increase the number of bays of swings to five from two.
The bricks in the mural stretching along the back wall of the park will be repointed to improve their condition. A stage with seating steps and a viewing area with three spray fountains to accomodate the parks many summer performances are also part of the proposed new design.
The center of the park will be opened up so in the future community members can apply for permanent vendors to be established, said CSS.
The BPRD hopes to complete the Mozart Park renovation design process this fall. The community segment of the process is finished. Requests for bids will begin this winter, and the job should take three to four months, according to CSS and the parks department.