Over the next two fiscal years, Franklin Park is slated to receive $300,000 from the City—two-thirds of which will go to fix entryways and pathways, while the remaining amount is to re-do the cross-country course.
“There is more work to do than there is money out there this go-round,” said Margaret Dyson, director of historic parks at the Boston Parks and Recreation Department. “We have a long journey ahead of us at Franklin Park.”
A community meeting was held by the parks department March 19 to discuss problem areas. Christine Poff, executive director of the Franklin Park Coalition, said several hot spots were pointed out during the meeting, including where the “walking loop” passes between Valley Gates and Schoolmaster Hill and a pathway near the old Bear Dens.
Poff said she is thrilled the park is being allocated funds for improvements. Her coalition had been before the City Council last year advocating for such money.
Poff is also currently gauging interest from community groups to see if a playground should be built at the Shattuck Picnic Area. The playground would be erected by the Play 2 Dream Foundation, which has already built two other playgrounds at the park.
“We hope it could happen because we know how heavily used it would be in that location,” said Poff.
Dyson, who said the March 19 meeting had a good-size turnout of about 40 people, said the group was engaged and knew the park well. She added it was an opportunity for people to see the scale of the project and to broaden their knowledge.
“Some people tend to be concerned with only the part of the park they use,” said Dyson.
She noted they will be balancing investments in different parts of the park, and that the improvements will be phased in.
“We’ll assess what we’ve seen, what we’ve heard and find the most urgent needs,” she said.
Dyson expects to have another community meeting near the end of April to present the findings to the public. Once a proposal has been completed, the Boston Landmarks Commission will have to rule on it because Franklin Park is a historic landmark.
If the project is deemed to be a repair, the commission can administratively approve it. Otherwise, the proposal will need to be presented in front of the commission during a hearing, said Dyson. She said they hope to begin construction during the summer.