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City allocates $28 million for Franklin Park

City will engage community members in planning process

Trea Lavery
City allocates $28 million for Franklin Park
A golf course takes up much of the land in Franklin Park. BANNER PHOTO

Franklin Park will be getting a makeover, thanks to a $28 million investment announced last week by Mayor Martin Walsh and the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

The Franklin Park Master Plan will lay out renovations and improvements for the city’s largest park, which borders Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, Roslindale and Jamaica Plain.

The city has already spent $7.25 million improving walkways in the park. BANNER PHOTO

The city has already spent $7.25 million improving walkways in the park. BANNER PHOTO

“It’s a wonderful park, but it’s very large, so there’s a diverse set of things that have to be addressed,” said Franklin Park Coalition Executive Director Janna Cohen-Rosenthal. “The biggest thing that we want to see is more people enjoying the park, and that requires a comprehensive set of improvements.”

These improvements will be funded by $163 million sale last year by the city of the Winthrop Square Garage site downtown.

Franklin Park was designed in 1890 by Frederick Law Olmsted as a way of combating rising urban density in Boston.

Cohen-Rosenthal told the Banner that one of the most exciting projects she hopes to see completed is an outdoor performance space in the park, so that the Franklin Park Coalition can expand its annual Elma Lewis summer concert series, which has been running since the 1970s.

In addition, she wants to see the park’s wilderness trails updated, with better wayfinding and preservation of the trees and other vegetation.

“Many involved in the organization want to see the wilderness be protected, the trees healthier, better wayfinding,” Cohen-Rosenthal said. “We want to still keep that feeling that Olmsted wanted to have, where it’s a reprieve from the city, but have it made more accessible in various ways.”

Jamaica Plain resident Jaime Rodriguez, who walks in the park daily, agreed the wilderness trails need better care.

“They need improvements on all the walking paths,” he said. “They need new plantings. Many of the trees are dying.”

The city recently completed a $7.25 million project updating the park’s walkways and entrances, which was the largest project in Franklin Park since the 1990s.

Cambridge-based architecture firm Reed Hilderbrand will design the renovations, along with Agency Landscape and Planning of Cambridge and MASS Design Group of Boston.

Cohen-Rosenthal said that the Franklin Park Coalition and the Boston Parks and Recreation Department will be working closely with the community to find out what residents want to see from the park’s improvements, and they are looking for creative ways of both updating the beloved green space and collecting feedback from members of the community.

Walsh said in his announcement that he was “excited to celebrate the master plan of Franklin Park and the renovations that will help Franklin Park reach its full potential as Boston’s largest park, and one of our cherished green spaces.”

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