By Michael Coughlin Jr.
At the Egleston Square Neighborhood Association’s monthly meeting on Monday, Feb. 6, it was revealed that it does not look like Lawson Park will be allocated CPA funding for a renovation project this year.
According to Magda Drici, who helped steer the application for funding along with Carolyn Royce and Susan Pranger, the application was asking for around $500,000 for renovations at the park and renovations to an area that houses blue bikes across the street.
“We had a pretty solid application. I think we were considered seriously, but unfortunately, the staff at the CPA did not recommend our project to move forward,” said Drici.
Although Drici did say Monday that a final decision regarding which projects were recommended is expected this week, it did not sound promising for the Lawson Park application.
“It sounded like from the community meetings we’ve had that they were not going to fund the project at Lawson this year,” said Drici.
As for why the project was not given funding, there were indications during Monday’s meeting that it has to do with a bit of a quarrel between the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) and the Parks and Recreation Department.
Drici indicated that the Boston Parks and Recreation Department owns Lawson Park, and the CPC had had issues in the past giving CPA funding for projects at parks owned by the city. The issues stem from funds not being used and projects not being completed in the timeframe the committee wants.
“So they’re kind of reluctant to give us the money right now because they worry that the funds will not get to the community right away.”
Lawson Park not receiving this funding was obviously upsetting to those in attendance, especially to Royce, who said she was “exceedingly disappointed.”
“It was a multi-year process to get a design for that land, and we had a really good application, and we didn’t really have any clue that they were going to turn us down on the reason they said,” said Royce.
It seemed like Royce was even more frustrated about the reasoning behind the funding not being awarded, saying, “I don’t know – what’s a neighborhood supposed to do.”
“We don’t have control of the land, the Parks Department does, but the Parks Department doesn’t fund changes. We have to go out and look for funding for changes, and then we’re tied to the Parks Department.”
Although this situation definitely is frustrating to some, Pranger was sure not to blame the Parks Department for the issues as she realizes that these approved projects often take a lot of time to complete.
“I do want to be careful to not make it sound like the Parks Department is just sitting on the money – they are doing these projects; it just takes a while to go through the process,” said Pranger.
As for what is next, Drici made it clear that this is not the end of the push for funding for Lawson Park, and an even harder push for CPA funding will happen next year.
“We’ll try again next year; we are not going to give up,” said Drici.
“Let’s just cross our fingers and hope that maybe next year we will see more money being allocated to our area.”