Proposed Improvements to Boston Common Revealed to Public for Feedback

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BOSTON- The Boston Parks and Recreation Department, in collaboration with Friends of the Public Garden and design consultants Weston & Sampson, on Wednesday introduced proposed improvements and recommendations for the future of Boston Common at the first public meeting as part of “Open House #3: A Series of Virtual Events.”

During Open House #3, the Master Plan team introduced park wide strategies and several proposed improvement areas throughout the Common to aid the public in contextualizing the planning process and formulating more granular, site-specific feedback as the master plan development process continues.

The park wide strategies discussed last night for Boston Common – both a neighborhood park and international tourism destination – focus on the tree canopy, benches and seating, circulation and access, and events and programming. The proposed recommendations include providing more shady spots for comfortable seating, identifying an interior loop that connects amenities in the park, and making the park more resilient to the impacts of large events on the landscape.

The Master Plan team, reflecting insights gleaned from public input and site analysis, discussed several improvement areas in different sections of the park. The Frog Pond area is proposed to be enhanced with visitor support services like an expansion of the children’s playground with diverse play opportunities, expanding the Frog Pond pavilion and amenities, and improving infrastructure for multi-season events and flexible programmed usage. The Park Street Station entrance, another one of the proposed improvement areas, could be transformed through a fully accessible route through the plaza to the MBTA headhouses, supportive infrastructure for vending and programmed use, an improved pedestrian gateway and park-wide wayfinding, which will improve the park’s navigation and experience for visitors.

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh has committed $28 million from the sale of the Winthrop Square garage to augment the current historic levels of investment in Boston Common to fully renovate America’s First Park. This investment will ensure future generations will enjoy the park in its full vibrancy. “Since its founding in 1634, Boston Common has been at the heart of our city as a prominent place for community, recreation, and the arts,” said Mayor Walsh. “The City looks forward to exploring and implementing recommended strategies through continued engagement with the public to create an accessible, inclusive, and resilient space for all to enjoy.”

“It is notable that from our last Open House earlier this year, the important role shared greenspaces, like the Boston Common, play in our city’s civic life has only become more apparent,” said Liz Vizza, President of the Friends of the Public Garden. “Parks need people and people need parks. We hope that the public will continue to engage with the Master Plan team as the process continues, we need everyone’s voice to help shape the future of America’s first public park.”

In the coming weeks there will be smaller, interactive open forum discussions for the public to review proposed improvements, ask questions, and share ideas with the project team panelists. These next steps in the process follow a series of events engaging the public and collecting feedback. Team members from the City, Friends, and Weston & Sampson’s design studio will participate.

The schedule for the open forum discussions is as follows:

  • Tuesday, September 22, 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.: Park-wide Strategies for Improvements
  • Thursday, September 24, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.: Visitor Activities and Play
  • Tuesday, September 29, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.: Performances and Active Recreation
  • Thursday, October 1, 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.: Gateways and Edges

“There is still more work that needs to be done in preparing a comprehensive Master Plan, and we look forward to public dialogue during the upcoming Open Forum Discussions to ensure that the final product represents the input from a fully engaged community,” said Cheri Ruane, Vice President and Landscape Architecture Practice Leader for Weston & Sampson.

As America’s first public park, Boston Common is one of the most treasured greenspaces in the world. For the last several months, the Master Plan team has worked to engage the public through mini-Common pop-ups and park presence days, open houses, an online survey, and through digital media. The goal of the Boston Common Master Plan is to create a Common that will serve the people of Boston and visitors alike while protecting this unique oasis for decades to come. For the latest information as the process continues, please visit www.bostoncommonmasterplan.com.