Maintain Our Open Spaces
I am responding to recent media articles about future uses for the Shattuck Hospital site at Franklin Park. There have been calls to restore the land to Franklin Park, and use the state owned Arborway Yards close by for the development proposals slated for the site. The Shattuck site was given to the state for ‘public health’ purposes in 1949. I don’t think the value of a park’s contribution to ‘public health’ has been considered in recent articles. Boston is lucky that in past generations we had leaders who understood the important social and community benefits of parks – and worked hard to create and maintain our open spaces. Unfortunately some people look at ‘open space’ and think ‘empty’. The importance of human connections to nature, the role of parks in reducing stress and providing leisure and exercise space, and the increasingly important role in the future of parks,
and particularly trees, helping ameliorate the effects of climate change – cooling, reducing storm water runoff & pollution – is treated as an overall goal – but avoided in particular situations like Franklin Park. Boston is very lucky to have Franklin Park – designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and considered by many his most beautiful park. However since its design and construction in the late 19th Century – the park has undergone many changes. Not only did Mayor Curley give the state the 13 acres in 1949 – the rest of the park has been cut up into many single uses. These include a golf course, a zoo, the Parks Department maintenance depot, the police horse stables, roads and parking spaces amounting to 57% of the original space not currently ‘free’ public space. The residential areas abutting Franklin Park are undergoing conversion into apartments and the population is growing. This area of Boston needs all the parkland it has and more. Why is
using the Arborway Yards ( a state owned property) not a viable option for the health services proposed for the Shattuck Site? I’ve only heard the argument it is too much trouble.