The Healthy Square Committee of the Egleston Square Neighborhood Association wishes to express its thanks to Christine Poff from the Franklin Park Coalition and Marchelle Jacques-Yarde from the Parks Department for spending a recent morning in the northwest corner of Franklin Park with representatives from our committee. (“Franklin Park advocates seek improvements,” Dec. 19.) We were joined by friends and neighbors, including the fifth- and sixth-grade classes from the near-by Neighborhood School as we shared our concerns about upkeep and maintenance.
What became clear during our walk and in the discussion later is that the Parks Department still has no clear maintenance plan for Franklin Park, nor adequate funds from the city budget for maintenance. Large gullies caused by rain gashed the regionally used cross-country track. The magnificent siting and bas relief sculpture of the Old Bear Dens had to be pointed out, as the threatening iron cages still present a malevolent aspect. The Franklin Park Coalition has done magnificent work removing invasive plants in Long Crouch Woods, but their work is guided by a woodlands management plan yet to be adopted by the Parks Department. As we found our way to the back of the zoo, our group had to rely on the knowledge of frequent park users, as there was no signage. Signs developed by the FPC over a year ago are yet to be adopted by the Parks Department.
Franklin Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted , the father of American landscape architecture, as part of Boston’s Emerald Necklace. He envisioned and designed a park system that would enhance the livability of an iconic American city where people would find quiet refuge from the noise and busyness of the city. He believed that both mental and physical health are enhanced by access to beauty and green space. Franklin Park is thus an artistic and precious legacy bequeathed to Boston that needs care and nurture. It is also a potential economic engine for our neighborhoods. Egleston Square could be a gateway to Franklin Park. Imagine a yellow brick path from the Brewery past the Peace Garden to a restored entrance with beautiful signage orienting the visitor to the zoo, White Stadium and the cross-country track.
The Healthy Square Committee looks forward to working with the Parks Department and the Franklin Park Coalition to develop a restoration and maintenance plan for our corner of Franklin Park. We need to include a use permitting process that has a philosophy of environmental restoration at its core. Financing mechanisms are critical, and thinking outside the box to pull in support from non-city users must be included. Creative ideas abound in Boston. Students from the Neighborhood School lead the way with suggestions to remove the spiky iron bars in the Bear Dens and to develop a natural play area.
The Healthy Square Committee of ESNA