Attendees approve of Franklin Park pathways improvement plan

The Boston Parks and Recreation Department (BPRD) held a meeting on Nov. 17 to inform the public about upcoming improvements to Franklin Park’s entrances and pathways. Overall, the attendees were pleased with the plan.

BPRD and the Franklin Park community collaborated in 2012 and 2014 to set priorities for the maintenance and improvements of pathways in the park.  The process of repaving and updating the pathways and entrances started in 2012, and the team is currently planning its fourth stage of development. Phases one and two were completed in 2012 and 2015, respectively. The third stage of development is currently underway and should be finished right after Thanksgiving if there are no major blizzards. If all goes as planned, stage four plans will be implemented in early spring of 2017.

The planning time for stage four, and the topic of the Nov. 17 meeting, was for the work between Seaver Street and Playstead Road, on the pathway between Williams Street and Ellicott Arch, and on the Seaver Street and Walnut Avenue intersection and edge. The project has been allocated $1.4 million to the construction of this phase from the City’s Capital Improvement Funds.

BPRD’s Lauren Bryant ran the meeting, and Margaret Dyson, director of Historic Parks, was able to answer many community questions regarding the park.

Overall, the plans are to repave the targeted sections with asphalt. There was some community discussion at the meeting about whether asphalt, concrete, or a more natural gravel surface would be more appropriate. One community member asked if it was possible to use more of a natural surface, especially where the park is more wooded. Margaret Dyson said that since there are many steep hills in the park, they demand intervention on a regular basis to keep paths free of erosion when they are gravel. Ultimately, the consensus of the group was to use asphalt for its affordability, durability, and ease of maintenance.

Most of the improvements are simply to repave the paths that are already there. None of the functions or uses of the paths will change regarding pedestrian or vehicular use. Community members agreed that the park needs more signage within, but it is a matter out of the scope of the funding.

“The Arboretum is a terrific model, but we can’t invest as much as Harvard did,” said Dyson.

Some paths are extremely wide, and will be reduced in width to encourage more growth around them. The carriageways, which are flanked by footpaths, will remain the same. Bryant said that this would be a “historical nod” and mirror what is seen in the Arboretum. Each entrance will also feature a new historic entry sign.

The designers want to make entrances more attractive and accessible. The Seaver Street entrance will be made more formal by adding a small planted area, and it won’t be “just a bunch of boulders,” said Bryant.

“They don’t feel welcoming,” she said. “We’re not just cleaning them up, but making them more accessible as well.”

Residents can contact Lauren Bryant at 617-961-3019 or [email protected] if they have any comments or questions.

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