First Public Meeting: Healy Field Renovations

On Monday, October 19, the Parks Department held its first public meeting to discuss the upcoming renovations to the playground at Healy Field. As we have previously written, this park’s location and size make it perhaps the most important site for active recreation in Roslindale.

Names to Know

The project manager for the renovation is Cathy Baker-Eclipse. Cathy led us through the playground renovation at Fallon Field, is a Roslindale resident, and has demonstrated a commitment to both the community process and innovative play space design. You can contact her at cathy.baker-eclipse@cityofboston.gov or 617-961-3058.

The Parks Department has selected Copley Wolff Design Group to design the playground. Copley Wolff has an extensive portfolio that includes many children’s play spaces. Most Roslindale residents will likely be familiar with several of their projects around Boston, which include the TADPole Playground at the Boston Common and the outdoor space at the Kroc Center, as well as several neighborhood playgrounds. Copley Wolff was also involved in the design of the impressive outdoor space at the Montshire Museum in Vermont, and their web site suggests that they are currently working with the Boston Children’s Museum to make some very impressive-looking updates to the Children’s Wharf Park.

Budget

During the meeting, the figure presented for the project budget was $550,000. Those paying close attention may recall that the FY16 budget recommendations listed the budget at $665,000. In a conversation after the meeting, the Parks Department clarified that the total budget remains at $665,000, which includes about $75,000 for the design process as well as an additional amount for unexpected conditions during construction. This leaves around $550,000 as a realistic target for the project’s build phase. We view the $665,000 total budget as fairly robust, and it should allow for dramatic improvements to the playground.

Community Input

The bulk of the meeting was reserved for community input about the playground and the park as a whole. A few of the themes that emerged:

  • A “cohesive park design”, taking into account the upcoming addition of a community garden to the park, Flaherty Pool, and the existing playing fields
  • A design that complements the upcoming renovations to Fallon Field
  • A clear enthusiasm for obstacle courses (especially among the youngest meeting participants)
  • A preference for adding height without taking up too much of the playground’s footprint (perhaps using an innovative structure similar to the Wall-Holla structure in Jackson Square)
  • The importance of adding a water feature (prompting the designers to ask, “how wet?”)
  • Interest in adding a walking path around the perimeter of the park
  • Opportunities for play programming at the playground and/or community garden
  • Expansion of the playground’s footprint, perhaps by extending the play area to the currently unused tract behind the pool and/or adding a picnic area adjacent to the baseball fields
  • Accessibility and inclusion

If you have additional comments or questions about this project, please contact Cathy Baker-Eclipse at cathy.baker-eclipse@cityofboston.gov or 617-961-3058.

What’s Next

The next community meeting should include some initial design concepts from Copley Wolff and additional opportunities for community feedback. We look forward to seeing the designers’ vision for this important community space.

 

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