Today the Mayor’s office released its FY16 recommended budget. As the first budget primarily developed under Mayor Walsh as well as the first budget since Chris Cook was named Parks Commissioner, this recommendation provides us a unique glimpse into the city’s plans for the future of its park system. Most important to our efforts are the updated capital plan, which covers the five year span from 2016 to 2020, and the Parks Department’s capital budget. Here’s what is planned for Roslindale’s playgrounds, as well as a little bit of insight into how the Parks Department will operate over the next five years.
The Fallon Field playground renovation project is listed as a FY16 Project Highlight in the capital plan as well as a Major Initiative in the Parks Department’s capital budget. The updated budget for this project is listed at $760,000 (up from $590,000 in the FY15 budget). This amount accounts for design fees, construction costs, and a cushion to address unexpected costs that arise during construction. The plan suggests that $50,000 will be spent during this fiscal year, $610,000 in FY16, and $100,000 after FY16.
As we had been verbally promised by Commissioner Cook, the capital plan includes a new project to renovate the playground at Healy Field in the near future. The total budget for this project is listed at $665,000, with $75,000 authorized to begin the design process during FY16 and the remainder slated for future years (presumably FY17). While this amount falls short of the budget allocated for the Fallon Field renovations, we are hopeful that the site’s flatter topography – which presumably makes ADA compliance easier – will allow for a robust playground redesign within this budget. Expect a community process similar to the one underway for the Fallon Field renovations to begin sometime next year.
New Parks in Roslindale?
The capital plan does not appear to include any indication that the city expects to develop new parks in Roslindale. However, it does indicate that other Parks Department initiatives are underway that could lead to additional parks.
The Parks Department is currently wrapping up two major studies that will be used to guide future capital plans: an Asset Study and Accessibility Evaluation, to provide comprehensive information about the state of repair of all Parks assets; and an Open Space Master Plan, which is a City-wide look at future needs and how best to meet them.
As we have previously written, the Open Space Plan is quite vague regarding the possibility of new parks in Roslindale. While we will continue to advocate for these improvements in the long term, there do not appear to be any imminent developments to report.
One More Budget Note
The renovations to both the Fallon Field and Healy Field playgrounds will occur shortly after upgrades to the athletic facilities at those same parks. In both cases, these projects were considered to be completely separate – they were budgeted and planned completely independently from the playground renovations and have little to no impact on the playgrounds. However, in the future it appears that major park projects will be planned using a “holistic” approach:
In pursuit of the goal of having the best parks system in the country, the Parks Department will take a whole park, holistic approach to planned park renovations.
The capital plan lists nine parks that will utilize this methodology during the FY16-FY20 time frame, although none of them are in Roslindale. Should we succeed in our efforts to secure more park space for our neighborhood we look forward to adopting a plan that address the needs of all of our residents, including our children.