Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced on April 5 that the Boston Parks and Recreation Department has launched a new master plan for Franklin Park, Boston’s largest park. With sale of Winthrop Square Garage, Mayor Walsh committed $28 million to revitalize Franklin Park, which was designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted and commissioned in the 1890s in response to the challenges associated with increasing urban density. In preparation for this $28 million investment, Boston Parks and Recreation Department is launching a new master plan for the park.
“I’m excited to celebrate the master plan of Franklin Park and the renovations that will help Franklin Park reach its full potential as Boston’s largest park, and one of our cherished green spaces,” said Mayor Walsh. “Thanks to the sale of the Winthrop Street Garage, we will have $28 million to invest in preserving and improving this park for our residents, and for future generations to come.”
The plan will provide a vision for the park, building on existing public and private investment and inform the priorities for expenditures from both Winthrop Square funds and future City of Boston Capital Plans. The funds will support capital investments as well as investments in the maintenance and activities of the park.
The park is located at the geographic heart of the City, the meeting ground of the Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, Roslindale and Jamaica Plain neighborhoods. Franklin Park draws visitors from throughout the region and around the world. It is the home of the William Devine Golf Course, the historic Bear Cages, Scarboro Pond, a renowned cross country running course, the Franklin Park Zoo, White Stadium, tot lots and playgrounds, miles of trails, and acres of woods and playing fields.
The Parks Department recently completed a six-year, $7.25 million project to improve pathways and entrances in Franklin Park, the largest investment in the park since the golf clubhouse was opened in 1998. That work delivered on the long-term community goals of taking Parks Department maintenance traffic off internal park paths and reestablishing Scarborough Pond as a beautiful and restful feature of the Emerald Necklace.
The Franklin Park Coalition has been working as the community voice of the park since the 1970s and hosts park events including the spring Kite & Bike Festival. The City and the Coalition worked together to select a unique and dynamic team to facilitate the master planning efforts.
“This is a generational opportunity to protect and enhance the public health benefits of our beloved park, while also developing creative new opportunities in partnership with the Parks and Recreation Department,” said Franklin Park Coalition executive director Janna Cohen-Rosenthal. “We were impressed by the selected team’s collaborative approach, dedication to the community process, and design expertise. We are very excited to begin work on this project.”
The team selected is Cambridge-based landscape architects Reed Hilderbrand working in collaboration with Agency Landscape + Planning of Cambridge and MASS Design Group of Boston. Supporting consultants include Nitsch Engineering, Applied Ecological Services, ETM Associates, and ARUP as well as subject matter specialists Stephen Gray, Ethan Carr, Julie Africa, and others.
“A master plan for Franklin Park is an exhilarating and humbling commission,” said John Kett, principal and lead designer for Reed Hilderbrand. “We recognize the beauty of the landscape Olmsted found and carefully reshaped for public enjoyment, and we appreciate the important role it has played in the lives of city residents for past generations. We are eager to serve the communities who spend their mornings, afternoons, evenings, and weekends here. We are committed to envisioning a sustainable and equitable Franklin Park that contributes to a prosperous and vibrant Boston for future generations.”