While supporters and critics of a Boston Olympics debate the Games’ possible impact on Franklin Park, the advocates who care for the park spent Dec. 12 looking at smaller, more immediate concerns.
That day, the Franklin Park Coalition (FPC) and the Egleston Square Neighborhood Association held a park walk-through, looking at issues of erosion, disuse and invasive species. They invited Boston Parks Commissioner Chris Cook, but got community liaison Marchelle Jacque-Yarde.
The Olympics were barely mentioned. But the City’s tight parks budget was talked about.
FPC Executive Director Christine Poff later told the Gazette that, with no information from the Olympic bidders and its 10-year timeframe, park advocates are more focused on the present than that “distant possibility.”
“We just have no idea what the plan is for the Olympics, except that the park may be used for the equestrian events. It’s hard to think of improvements…especially so far away—2024!” Poff said in an email. “If the Olympics comes closer to reality, I think FPC will have to look at the impact equestrian events have had on other locations and what the plans are for the park…”
About a dozen neighborhood residents, plus about 15 students and teachers from the nearby Neighborhood School, escorted Jacque-Yarde on an hour-long tour of the western, Jamaica Plain-area boundary of Franklin Park.
The group observed flooded areas and deep gouges in gravel paths left behind by heavy rain earlier last week, as well as disused areas of the park such as picnic tables and the century-old Bear Dens.
“The point is to connect in people’s minds that the park is here,” ESNA member Lina Stoia told the Gazette during that tour.
Lee Glenn, a resident of nearby Park Lane, said that the park “doesn’t need improvements. It needs maintenance.”
The group also covered areas that the FPC has worked on improving in the last year, clearing invasive species and planting bulbs and other ecosystem-supportive plants.
Poff noted that FPC offers free training on invasive plant maintenance and other landscaping skills used in the park.
Jacque-Yarde replied that Commissioner Cook “is all about professional development,” especially if the cost is affordable. She said she would convey to him the idea of training more Parks Department staff in identifying invasives.
A wrap-up conversation, held in the home of walk organizer Martha Karchere, saw the community members agreeing to petition city councilors for a higher parks budget.