A sit-down restaurant, basketball courts, Wi-Fi, and an enclosed dog park are just a few of the proposals included in plans for a multimillion-dollar makeover of Boston Common.
City leaders unveiled the 362-page Boston Common Master Plan on Wednesday, outlining a reimagined vision for the nation’s oldest public park. The plan is the product of a multi-year collaboration between the Boston Parks and Recreation Department and the non-profit group Friends of the Public Garden.
Boston set aside $28 million for the project following the sale of the city’s Winthrop Square garage.
In a statement included in the report, Mayor Michelle Wu said the city is “excited to be sharing a plan that honors the Common’s history, reflects the community’s vision, and creates a space that will be more accessible, more resilient, and more inclusive for generations to come.”
There’s no timetable for the improvements, though Liz Vizza, president of the Friends of the Public Garden, told The Boston Globe that the blueprint is meant to establish a vision for transforming the park over the next decade or so.
Community members are able to share their thoughts during the public comment period, which ends on Nov. 30.
Here are a few highlights from the master plan:
The Frog Pond
Proposed renovations for the Frog Pond include an expansion of the existing pavilion, a new splash pad, and an improved wading pool with more accessible entry. The master plan also suggests a café or restaurant with outdoor patio seating overlooking the pond, raising the possibility of beer and wine sold onsite.
“In short, investments in upgrading the Frog Pond area will match the current and projected levels of use and expectations for supportive infrastructure without sacrificing its character,” the report notes.
Boston Common would gain additional restrooms under the plan, including at the Frog Pond, where existing restrooms do not meet the current state plumbing code.
Recreation is key at Boston Common, as the report explains: “Whether it’s… hearing the bounce of a soccer ball off of a cleat, or seeing a cute pooch basking in the sun, crafting a rounded recreation program makes a park more layered and dynamic.”
The master plan calls for relocating existing tennis courts, adding basketball courts, replacing two baseball and softball diamonds with a multi-use ballfield and a multi-use soccer field, and establishing a sporting equipment rental facility for pick-up games.
The basketball courts could even double as a back-of-house zone for larger events at Parkman Bandstand, according to the plan.
The reimagining also includes some provisions for canine recreation, proposing an enclosed dog park in lieu of the lawn panels currently designated for off-leash use.
The dedicated space “will give dog owners a place for their exclusive use, relieving those visitors who might be afraid of dogs and accommodating the dog-owning constituency in a specific and appropriate manner,” according to the plan.
As is, internet service is weaker toward the middle of the common, presenting “a roadblock for event operators, park staff, visitors, and even those looking for a remote work location,” according to the master plan.
The plan proposes new infrastructure to carry reliable Wi-Fi into the center of the park, thereby opening “a new realm of possibilities.”
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