Mayor Menino and Suffolk Construction chief John Fish’s out-of-the-blue plan to renovate White Stadium is weird in a good way, like a guy riding around in a limo tossing hundred-dollar bills out the window to passers-by. Fish showed up in Franklin Park essentially offering millions of dollars in youth-oriented resources, and it’s smart to say yes. But the neighborhood also can give some valuable advice on the best places to put that money to make the investment count.
Fish has said he views community input as a crucial asset, and we take him at his word. It is important that any investment in White Stadium remain properly targeted, but a key context should be better integration of the stadium’s activities with those of the park and the adjacent neighborhood. The Franklin Park Coalition is an outstanding partner with the City in maintaining and programming the park, but funds are slim and needs are great. It would be unwise to spread money around thinly, but it makes sense to view a new, improved stadium as part of the park rather than a legacy project dropped into it.
A stadium rehab can be seen as a remarkable gift to JP, Dorchester and Roxbury. It would be even better if it is seen as a partnership with those neighborhoods.