At a well-attended Franklin Park safety meeting last October speakers expressed frustration that they cannot adequately describe where they are when calling in a complaint.
“Calls [to police] are not attended to because the 911 operator or police don’t know where to go.” said Christine Poff, director of the Franklin Park Coalition, said then.
The Boston Parks Department is taking steps to correct that problem.
According to Ryan Woods, director of external affairs at the Boston Parks Department, Cloud Gehshan, a Philadelphia firm, was hired to do the design for the park signs.
The firm recently completed a clean waters signage program for their home city’s Water Department.
“We’re currently in the design and study phase and once we get to the final design we will look at the associated costs,” Woods said. “Some parks will receive one sign [while] the larger ones like Franklin Park and Dorchester Park will get multiple signs.”
“It’s a big project,” Woods continued. “We want to give accurate addresses for each park or park location” based on the comprehensive City of Boston Parks and Recreation Directory, which was released in June 2014.
Woods said addresses were given to seven locations in Franklin Park:
- El Parquecito de la Hermanadad – 450 Walnut Avenue
- Mothers Rest opposite Angel Street – 35 American Legion Highway
- Tiffany Moore Playground – 155 Seaver Street
- Playstead – 25 Pierpont Road
- Golf clubhouse – 1 Jewish War Veterans Drive
- Maintenance Yard – 100 Jewish War Veterans Drive
- Franklin Park Zoo – 1 Franklin Park Drive
Blue police call boxes have been installed at both the Playstead and golf clubhouse for the past few years.
Clearly these are not all the areas in the 500 acres of Franklin Park and Woods said that part of the design study will be to determine which areas will get an address.
“The signs will give place name, address and basic information like call 911 [ to report an emergency],” Woods said.
Woods said the aim is to put the project into the fiscal 2017 budget for the Parks Department. City Council will begin consideration of that year’s spending and revenue plan in June 2016.
The Parks Directory lists in alphabetical order every park, playground and urban wild in the city of Boston.
For example Parkman Playground is at 58 Wachusett St., Bussey Brook Urban Wild is at 255 South St. and Egleston Plaza (with the blue sign under the cherry trees) is 1 Atherton St.
“These addresses have been in the directory for some time,” said Woods,” but they have not been universally known to the police or the public.”
The goal of the Parks Department is to use these addresses on a city-wide standardized signage system.
Poff, of the Franklin Park Coalition, said the advocacy group has not been involved in the Franklin Park signage design/study.
“No,” she said. “We’re frustrated.”
She explained that the Franklin Park Coalition has been working on Franklin Park signage for three years.
In November 2012 the Coalition received a $10,000 Beautification Program grant from the Boston Parks Department for park signs.
“We submitted a proposal for signs created by Jamaica Plain designer Jill Conley”, said Poff. “She made mock-ups for signs at four areas in the park: The Wilderness, Scarborough Hill, Schoolmaster Hill and the Bear Dens/Humboldt Avenue.”
“But we haven’t received permission to go any further. We get calls from the city grant department asking why haven’t we spent the money and then can’t get permission from the historic parks section of the Parks Department. We need that before we can go to the Landmarks Commission.”
Poff expressed concern that the Parks Department was not accurate in at least one of its location selections. She said Mothers Rest is not on American Legion Highway; it’s near Blue Hill Avenue.
She was referring to the circle of park benches around a long-dormant stone fountain built in 1909 just inside Blue Hill Avenue and American Legion Highway at Wales Street entrance. (The Parks Department put up a park sign at that entrance in 1991). The Parks Department is referring to play equipment set up above the American Legion boundary opposite Angel Street.
Poff is interested to learn what other locations will be selected when the design program is complete. In 2009 The Coalition produced a full-color map of Franklin Park that had 21 park areas and 10 entrances marked as well as bus stops and parking areas.
Poff is still optimistic; she has faith in Park Commissioner Chris Cook.
“He’s been really helpful,” she said “He asked us to send him one of our funding proposals and we sent the park signage to him.”