Our thanks to more than 30 people who attended our North End Community Meeting on April 2nd at Fairmont Hotel in the North End.  Our opening presentation is linked here and we’ve done our best to summarize the questions (and answers) as well as input from participants.

NECommmtg

From the Facilities and Maintenance Breakout, Steve Anderson, Director of Park Operations, talked about the following topics that were raised:

Rodent control – we have an active rodent control program in place and we’re always looking for any new issues and trouble areas.

Trash – Question as why do we use separate trash/recycling containers vs. the newer Big Belly containers that the city recently installed.  Big Belly containers compact trash so that collection can occur infrequently. The Conservancy removes the trash and recycling several times a day from the park to minimize issues with smells and rodents.  We have a presence in the parks 7AM-11PM, 365 days/year which means that those collecting trash are also available regularly to answer park patrons’ questions. (We partner for trash collection and other basic maintenance with WORK Inc., a local non-profit that provides workforce development opportunities for those with disabilities.)

Why is there a leak on North End Parcel 8?  This is a flaw that in the vault for the fountains that was discovered and fixed before the Mass Turnpike Authority completed the Greenway park construction.  The injected-epoxy fix failed after about one year.  To completely fix the leak would require significant park disruption excavation of the vault to determine the full cause of the issue and then some “field engineering” to determine a resolution – it could cost anywhere from $30,000 to $70,000 or more depending upon what was found.  Since the leak is fairly small, we’re looking for less expensive ways to mitigate the issues, such as channeling and draining the water.

The lights embedded in the Freedom Trail pathway on Parcel 8  aren’t always operating.

These LED lights were specified and installed before LED light technology achieved the stability and performance reputation that they now have.  We have had issues with water and leakage – shortening the life expectancy.  We replace failed units with better technology whenever possible.

From the Horticulture Breakout, Anthony Ruggiero, Horticulture Foreman, covered the general discussion and requests for more color and interest in the planting beds with a number of participants.  There were a number of questions of about plant types, collaborating with the Friends of Christopher Columbus Park, working with volunteers, working with vendors and what plants and trees might be appropriate in different areas of the North End.  Along with the overview of some of the priorities and the challenges associated with our organic program, Anthony discussed the spring 2013 plan to transplant the small Magnolias out of the lawn in both Parcels 8 and 10 and into the Taxus/Arborvitae beds along Hanover Street.  They will be replaced with larger specimen shade trees, 4 – 5 Maples and 1 Elm, to create a respite from the sun in the lawn areas of both Parcels 8 and 10 without interfering with the sunbathers; this work is anticipated to be complete by the end of April.  There was also a request to further increase the advertisement/messaging of the Organic Maintenance practices on the Greenway.

Park Uses and Furnishings, Linda Jonash, Director of Planning and Design noted that the issue most people commented on was the need for more shade in the parks.  This was echoed in the Horticulture and Programs break-outs as well.  Among the input and ideas were:

The Pergola could be made more of a welcoming place by:

  •  Engage an artist to design some type of hanging fabric or decorative element to the pergola that could also offer a bit of shade but also add color and interest to the structure

(Linda mentioned in her opening presentation there is a fair amount of misunderstanding about what the pergola structure is supposed to be. It was never intended to provide shade as they are commonly used in park settings.  The Landscape Architects for the North End Parks intended the pergola to be a prominent architectural feature that framed a long “porch” overlooking the city.  The structure is too high for any type of climbing vine to successfully grow over its top.  And because of its orientation facing west, any canopy attached at its top would shade mostly the street, rather than the public seating area along the fountain edge.

  • Add umbrellas to provide shade for the tables and chairs.  Possibly decorate them  with fun colors or designs to make them look a bit more unique.  Linda responded that the Conservancy was trying to standardize some of the park amenities and they had chosen particularly durable bright green umbrellas that could withstand the heavy park use and windy park conditions.  Perhaps the table tops could be customized and relate more directly to the North End.
  • Grow stronger, more colorful vines on pergola, such as wisteria and possibly supplement with more robust plant material along the Cross Street edge to help buffer the traffic and street noise.  Linda noted that there would need to be some type of added armature system on the pergola to support the vines.
  • Identify and showcase the historical interpretive elements in park in a more obvious way. Park users often are unaware of the railing with historic quotes, outline of Mill Pond, the line and lights of the Freedom Trail.
  • Consider purchasing new park benches versus fixing the current ones which are not comfortable and retain too much heat on hot days.
  • Consider offering individually sized lawn cushions similar to ones offered during the day at Post Office Square Park.

–    To activate the currently vacant Parcel 12 space, consider introducing a possible dog park along the curved side of parcel 12 facing the Dock Square Garage.  There aren’t adequate dog park facilities in the neighborhood and they can be designed in a way that are relatively easy to maintain.  People love to come watch the dogs play.

From the Programs Breakout, Charlie McCabe summarized the following questions and comments:

–    Winter Lights programs – lots of questions and input – some are successful, such as Color Connections, some less so, such as Urban Planning, given the constraints of budgets and funding as well as the weather factor.  Charlie reinforced that the Conservancy wants to work with nearby groups on more collaborative events, for example, combining carousel evenings and lighting with the annual first night of Christopher Columbus Park Trellis lighting, Blink! At Fanueil Hall Marketplace or similar. Other requests included making sure that winter lights events organizers understand constraints of spaces and issues running events in winter.  Consider collaboration with nearby groups, other groups in the city, such as Artists for Humanity.

–   Lots of questions about events, who approves events (City Parks and Recreation Department issues permits), may require additional permits from City’s office of Special Events.

–    People asked questions about earned revenue – do we earn revenue from Carousel, Food Vending, markets (such as the Greenway Open Market) and other events.  Charlie responded that Yes, in general, revenue varies by location for food vending, by contract with our rental carousel operator (this will change with our new carousel which we’ll own and will be managed by an operator under contract) and for Markets (percentage of booth fees)

–    People asked if we’d consider more permanent events, opportunities, such as a skating rink.  We have considered this in the past, and may consider it in the future, it will be subject to the Park Use Guidelines approved by MassDOT and subject to approvals from MassDOT and our board of directors, as well as city permitting.

–   Consider collaborating / marketing things to do nearby downtown, waterfront, etc. Charlie mentioned that we do already work with the Summer on the Waterfront (SOTW) group – jointly marketing and promoting our events and programs collectively.  SOTW is made up of Boston Harbor Association, Boston Harbor Islands Association, the Greenway Conservancy, NPS, the USS Constitution Museum, the ICA, the Children’s Museum and the New England Aquarium, among others.

–    Request: Please consider putting on Winter Markets like they do in other cities, as well as what they did in the Downtown Crossing area over the holidays.

–    One attendee really liked the fact that  Del’s Lemonade was going to be vending.