The following letter was sent to State Senator, State Representatives, City Councilors, Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council, Franklin Park Coalition, Emerald Necklace Conservancy, and press regarding the recently released Franklin Park Action Plan. Dear Mayor Wu, Rev. White-Hammond, and Commissioner Woods,
We respectfully request that you hold a series of community meetings to present and review the Franklin Park Action Plan in manageable but detailed sections, to answer questions and make clarifications about vague language in the plan. We appreciate that there is an online comment form and that the comment period has been extended to March 3. In recent weeks, hardcopies of the plan were also put in selected libraries for people to review, but this is not a robust enough community feedback process for such a large and impactful plan for Boston’s biggest park. A completely unidirectional input process has been set up that does not allow for people to ask questions or have plan language clarified.
The following is a summary of the Franklin Park Action Plan that includes recommendations for particular locations. Keep in mind that the Franklin Park Coalition board "regards many of these recommendations favorably," according to the plan's summary. But it is not an endorsement. The board has submitted comments on the Franklin Park Action Plan, including both endorsements and objections, to the Parks and Recreation Department in a separate document which will be made available on the Franklin Park Coalition website. You can register for a virtual public meeting hosted by the coalition about the action plan on Feb.
Mayor Michelle Wu announced the release of the new Franklin Park Action Plan, a 230-page report that provides a vision for the future of the 527-acre park. Already the city wants the public to share their perspectives on the plan and community priorities among many projects related to restoring historic structures, improving access for all transportation modes, dedicated spaces for cultural and recreational purposes, and ecological considerations. The plan can be viewed on the Franklin Park Action Plan website along with a form to capture feedback during the 60-day comment period that ends on February 10, 2023. The plan’s recommendations include the following:
Restoring and activating the Bear Dens with new uses;
Reintroducing the Elma Lewis Playhouse to the Overlook with a new stage, restrooms, and seating;
Upgrading active spaces like trails, play areas, athletic fields, and picnic sites;
Creating a welcoming “front porch” for the Blue Hill Avenue entrance at Peabody Circle with terraced seating;
Rehabilitating the landscape of the park by removing invasive plants, cutting back vegetation to reveal the park’s sweeping vistas, and planting new native species and trees. The plan said that "abundant entrances" serve the Jamaica Plain community, that feed people to numerous spaces with active and passive uses, including the Playstead and White Stadium, El Parquesito Playground, Glen Road, and The Wilderness.
The Boston Parks & Recreation Department would like to hear residents' opinions about the preliminary designs to give Boston's largest park a major facelift by filling out the Franklin Park Action Plan survey by April 2. The designs were recently presented to the public during two online virtual sessions. The plan was created after three community workshops. Feedback will help project planners refine the plan. The survey is available on the project website FranklinParkActionPlan.com.
For the last two years input from hundreds of Franklin Park users has been gathered through surveys, visions sessions, and more to create a master plan to be used to make the park better for everyone who uses it. The Franklin Park Master Plan team will present a draft Action Plan on March 10, with two identical virtual presentations to accommodate people's different schedules at noon and at 6:30 pm. The city earmarked $28 million in 2019 to remake the park, with $5 million of that to create a maintenance endowment for Franklin Park. City planners worked with landscape architects, planners, ecologists, community engagement experts to create a community driven plan. Planners will share a preview of preliminary design ideas for Franklin Park and there will be opportunities for feedback.