You may have noticed the plaque next to the water table at the Healy Field playground and wondered how and why a group devoted to improvements to a downtown park chose to contribute to a playground renovation in Roslindale.
Friends of Post Office Square is a “civic corporation” that was formed to transform an unsightly above-ground parking garage into what is now Norman B. Leventhal Park, one of the great public spaces in our city. Parking at the site was not removed entirely, though; instead it was moved underground. As the park’s web site cleverly points out, this means that the park “is supported, structurally and financially, by Garage at Post Office Square, a 1,400-space parking garage.” This arrangement is referred to as “Park Above/Park Below”, and it has been an extremely successful model for financing the park’s projects. Indeed, the income from the garage allows Friends of Post Office Square to have an impact beyond the confines of their downtown park:
[The garage] generates the profits, about $8.6 million a year, to pay for the $76 million development of the park-and-parking-lot; its $2.9 million annual operation; its $1 million local tax bill; and, if things go well, a bit extra to contribute to a maintenance fund for neighborhood parks all over Boston.
In this past year Friends of Post Office Square chose accessible play as a priority for their contributions to neighborhood parks. Their leadership group consulted with the Boston Parks and Recreation Department to learn about projects where accessible play equipment could make a difference to a community. BPRD suggested Healy Field because of the department’s ongoing efforts to expand play opportunities throughout Roslindale as well as the strong local support for accessible play.
At Roslindale Wants to Play we are deeply appreciative of Friends of Post Office Square’s contributions to Healy Field, which we have previously suggested was the park where a playground renovation could have the greatest impact. We have been thrilled with the outcome of the renovation and we hope that our friends downtown realize how well-loved the new playground has already become. And perhaps the next time you visit Norman B. Leventhal Park (or park your car beneath it) you will have a greater appreciation for the organization responsible for its existence.