‘Arts park’ work begins

David Taber

Gazette Photo By John Ruch Work begins on the South St. Mall this week.

SOUTH ST.—After two years of community planning, work began on the renovation of the South Street Mall and Courts at South Street and Carolina Avenue this week.

A construction fence was erected Monday, and a crane and wood-chipper were present at the site early this week as workers began the process of felling and chipping the trees at the front of the park and along its north edge, opposite Carolina Avenue.

At a February community meeting, landscape architect Ray Dunetz said it was unlikely any of the existing trees could be saved during the renovation process. They will be replaced, he said.

The February meeting was the last public presentation of designs for the “arts park.” At the meeting, Dunetz, a JP resident, said the designs will include larger garden beds, new trees, new benches and a curvilinear—or wavy—stone sitting wall. The design also features a curvilinear art-fence by installation artist Beth Galston that will separate the tennis and basketball court from the park.

The contractor hired for the project, the Ronald A. Marini Corp., will do “as much work as it can before the winter,” she said.

The sidewalk in front of the park will remain open until a late phase in the work, when it will be torn up and replaced. The recently installed handicap pedestrian-accessibility ramp, built as part of a city effort last summer to bring ramps along Centre Street up to code, will “not be touched,” Cathy Baker-Eclipse of the Boston Parks Department told the Gazette.

The basketball and tennis court to the rear of the park will be the last part of the park to be reopened, she said, because the new seal-coat for the court surface is temperature-sensitive. The court might not be reopened until next summer, she said.

The overall project design has been going through city review, including a review by the Boston Arts Commission, in recent weeks. Baker-Eclipse said the design coming out of those reviews is “not substantially different from what was presented at last community meeting.”

Dunetz and Galston declined to make any graphics related to the project available to the Gazette because of concerns that designs, which are still being refined, would be mistaken by readers for the final product. Galston said the issues that remain to be resolved mostly revolve around what materials will be used.

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