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Old 07-07-2014, 01:47 PM   #21
underground
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Re: Boston Parks/Green Spaces

The Comm Ave Mall is a city treasure, but it seems strange to call the Greenway a failure due to a lack of comparative activation. Any given Saturday in the summer, there are as many people at the Ring Fountain alone as there are the entire length of the Mall. Same goes for the North End Park, the Carousel, and the Wharf District (check out the food trucks and market if you haven't already). Whatever the merits/demerits of the surrounding streets are (and I think an actual traffic study would be hard pressed to find a meaningful difference), it hasn't dampened use of the Greenway. In fact, if the argument is that street scape negatively impacting park usage needs to be changed, based on higher numbers of people in the Greenway, wouldn't that actually be an argument for a redesign of Comm Ave and it's surrounding buildings? And who would want to do that?

Source: downtown resident who's two main sunny weekend walks are the Comm Ave Mall and the Greenway.
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Old 07-07-2014, 01:50 PM   #22
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Re: Boston Parks/Green Spaces

Ok, just lost another post to the commenting system.

So shorter version. I will post my extensive second day of park pics later.

For now, I will use my trip as the basis to address the OP question and start with a controversial topic.

On my tour on Sunday afternoon on Independence Day Weekend, I passed around 20 baseball parks, none of which were in any kind of use. These fields were mostly urban locations. Do kids play baseball any more? Is there no money? Is everyone away for the weekend.

Olmstead Park Fields


Perhaps we should be converting, or abandoning or not maintaining these fields. An objection might be that we are better leaving them in, for they can be used for other ball games, picnicking, music etc if they are not being actively used. And once the infield/backstop are removed it is impossible to play organized baseball.

Sports I did see being played, aside from waterspouts, included basketball, tennis, bocce, obviously running and biking.

Ramsey Park courts - Melnea Cass Boulevard


Finally, this city has no need to allocate further land for parks / green space. We are better off enhancing and maintaing what we have. Everyone should be within a short walk, bike, transit trip of a place for quiet repose, picnicking, active sports, music, gardens, possibly gardening. Developers should be encouraged for funds to maintain what we have, or support transportation or affordable housing not green space.

I accept there may be some isolated exceptions. And I am not preaching against innovative programming or ideas or the addition of pocket parks in undevelopable parcels. Or that there may be a few isolated neighborhood exceptions to my point. Just that it should not be a knee jerk BRA / neighborhood demand of developers.
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Old 07-07-2014, 02:01 PM   #23
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Re: Boston Parks/Green Spaces

I dunno about other people but my softball league took this past weekend off. Damn shame too.

A lot of people travel though, I guess.
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Old 07-07-2014, 02:07 PM   #24
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Re: Boston Parks/Green Spaces

My league was off too. I think it was because of travel, but in all honesty, my 30+ body needed the rest!
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Old 07-07-2014, 02:28 PM   #25
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Re: Boston Parks/Green Spaces

Fair enough. It's not an activity etc. that I am very familiar with.

And it looks like the South End Baseball League uses Jim Rice Field, Peters Park quite actively. I guess I am not up on Saturdays at the baseball field very much.
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Old 07-07-2014, 02:42 PM   #26
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Re: Boston Parks/Green Spaces

Next topic.

Parking under I-93 / South End

Maybe not the right topic for this post. But let's assume the alternative was some sort of alternative open space.

Here's the idea. 435 spaces in total at the end of this year.


And here's the parking, SoWa Vintage Market, the Mill Building and the Pru for good measure.



Finally, here is a clip / news story on the temp night lighting installation.

On the whole I think this project is a success. I am normally against encouraging parking etc, but I think it works, and it's good for the Sowa Market, for local residents, Pine Street Inn, it looks well run, generates revenue (I presume) and should improve security.

I am interested to hear others' views.
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Old 07-07-2014, 03:21 PM   #27
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Re: Boston Parks/Green Spaces

Probably the least imaginative use they could think of. Parking under an overpass? How typically American.

On the other hand, expectations are so low that I guess this counts as an improvement.

As long as they are collecting revenue -- and not foisting this on the taxpayer -- then my main concern is air quality and induced demand. One of the main reasons for the parking freeze in downtown Boston is to prevent the attraction of additional tailpipes spewing pollution into the region. Putting parking lots just outside the parking freeze cordon defeats the spirit of that regulation, and harms the local air-breathing residents. Not to mention it results in some atrocious traffic -- just look at the Seaport.
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Old 07-07-2014, 04:22 PM   #28
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Re: Boston Parks/Green Spaces

Charlesgate

Most of you are probably aware that there is an attempt to replace the Bowker Overpass, particularly by Charlesgate residents whether by grounding or other means.

We can all agree that the area was very different when it was first developed. And more attractive as well.

Source

And that the idea of grounding it is linked to the same question for Storrow Drive. And that the Bowker inhibits the connection between the Fenway and Esplanade. And that a major objection is that it is dark and overbearing and unsafe at night.


I am definitely in support of replacing Storrow, but it requires replacing the Bowker. I have looked very hard at how this might be done. And I think it is very difficult, unless better Pike connections can be found, or better transit reduces Storrow trips from Alewife and Tobin to Longwood.

And I would be happy to remove the Bowker, if it works, but it may not. So what remains to be fixed: the pedestrian / bike connection can hopefully be fixed along with the Bowker, and the aesthetics.

Let's take the aesthetics. I question whether the existing overpass is as bad as has been stated and can't ultimately be lived with.

First some views.
This guy seemed to be quite happy with the view in the adjacent Park.


Here's a view Westbound at Comm Ave.


And another.



And a reverse for the last portion of the Comm Ave Mall which doesn't seem to be disheartened by the nearby Bowker.



So, if the Bowker can not be replaced. At least for the next twenty years, what then. The connections could certainly be improved. The railing could be more transparent to reduce the profile. Perhaps the concrete piers could be placed outside the sidewalk. Maybe even some architectural treatment could be made to the profile. The two ramps might be changed/reduced/elimnated.

And part of the main reason for the unattractiveness in the adjacent parklands is the normal lack of attention from the DCR who somewhat understandably neglect it due to lack of budget and higher priorities. Perhaps some of the budget required to implement a ground the Bowker option could be put towards the park and save the rest.

The main problems are really at Beacon St, where the roadway is twice as wide. It's possible this could be addressed in the redesign.

Finally for security, or to improve activation, consider a structure / use for underneath, particularly near the Beacon St crossing. Bar / cafe / music venue / performance space, something that would draw in people, make good use of the unique aspects of the space, provide 24 hour lighting, and add some visual interest.

Apparently there was a Bowker meeting last Monday. But I don't see any other information, or presentation materials.

Bottom line - I would love it if grounding it could be achieved. But if not, perhaps it can be lived with, at least for the medium term as we will almost definitely have to anyway. It's not the Mcgrath.

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Old 07-07-2014, 04:51 PM   #29
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Re: Boston Parks/Green Spaces

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew View Post
Probably the least imaginative use they could think of. Parking under an overpass? How typically American.

On the other hand, expectations are so low that I guess this counts as an improvement.
The revenue breakdown is unclear, but I presume they will get a percentage. The cost was $2.5m.

Unimaginative, I suppose. But building a structure there is very challenging, and would block off a lot of the area without creating an attractive atmosphere.

This solution doesn't have to be permanent, provides some decent ancillary benefits and still allows visibility through the expressway, and provides much needed security and visibility for the area.

BTW, I guess this is what's happening on Phase 2. And this was the only neighborhood reaction I could find.

I am much more bothered by the parking put behind and below all the new residential buildings. This is not Miami. All these substantial buildings just seem to be fronts for parking lots.

I was intrigued by the suggestion that MBTA Albany St Garage park its busses in this space, thereby freeing up land around the Harrison Ave Power Station for redevelopment.
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Old 07-07-2014, 05:02 PM   #30
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Re: Boston Parks/Green Spaces

The Dept of Conservation and Recreation seems to spend all of their money on highway operations so it's not surprising that they have little left for actual park maintenance.

DCR's priorities are clear: 1) Highway, 2) Highway, 3) Highway.

I attended the Bowker meeting last week. The DOT presenters were clueless. They're just there to fix a highway.

I would say a major theme of the evening came from the residents calling upon the construction workers to avoid killing trees, and it seems that the workers are already failing at their promise. I've seen several example pictures posted, today, of trees being dumped on with equipment or sand.

Imagine if DCR actually cared at all about parks, or people: things would be so much different.
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Old 07-07-2014, 05:17 PM   #31
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Re: Boston Parks/Green Spaces

Matthew,

I am sure I won't convince you. And I am sure I wouldn't be 100% supportive of DCR either. But it does seem fair to recognize that their operations budget (2014) is at least 33% lower than 6 years ago (info adj). And that their capital budget is on the order of 50% lower (this part needs to be confirmed).

Such a change is clearly going to have a visible impact on landscape maintenance in parks, building maintenance and infrastructure investment / maintenance.
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Old 07-07-2014, 05:22 PM   #32
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Re: Boston Parks/Green Spaces

And thanks for the meeting report. Judging just from the sequential development just from the presentations it's hard to see how any real planning is happening. It feels about like the process on this board.

Unless of course they internally believe that the basic infrastructure shouldn't change either because of philosophy, intransigence, or prejudgement that such a scheme could work. In these cases I guess they are just going through the planning and public meeting process because they have to. And don't see a need to develop it productively.
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Old 07-07-2014, 08:04 PM   #33
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Re: Boston Parks/Green Spaces

SoWa Market
Nice and busy part of town on summer Sundays. The galleries are nice to visit the rest of the year too, the mill buildings were very well developed. Nothing fantastic, but solid. FWIW I also recommend Gaslight.

Food [Truck] Market - sorry, but how American. The food's not bad. It's quite a scene. It was sort of a medium turnout today. Would I travel 1 hour to come here and buy a Bon Me? Not sure. But it's worth getting in Dewey Sq or Copley for work-lunch.



I think I like the way they have brought in the tables and laid out the area now.



Beautiful space in the old West End Railway Power Station, (some history)



The farmer's market is a bit disappointing really. Too much prepped food. Not enough variety. Copley is better, but marginally more expensive.



And the Vintage Market, which I don't particularly care for, but it always looks the biggest and busiest out of the three.



Finally. the future home of wealthy people and whole foods, which will completely clean up.



Sometimes hard to believe there are still 7 new high-end residential buildings to come within 3 blocks of here, plus whatever gets signed on after that.
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Old 07-09-2014, 07:31 PM   #34
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Re: Boston Parks/Green Spaces

I decided to post the rest of my Greenway pictures from last weekend after all of the Big Dig 'what is it good for' discussion.

So starting with Chinatown.

Probably one of the best used parks in the City on a daily basis. These guys are always here playing presumably mahjong(?) or something similar.



The center of Chinatown Park is usually very well used. Although here it looks like it is too hot for most. The second picture shows the Falun Gong group that is normally here off to the side underneath the shade.





Next the bamboo park, stream, Radian and wall of death.





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Old 07-09-2014, 07:32 PM   #35
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Re: Boston Parks/Green Spaces

Dewey Square

As expected for Sunday at 11:30am, very little action on Dewey Square.



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Old 07-09-2014, 07:38 PM   #36
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Re: Boston Parks/Green Spaces

Congress to Pearl (Greenway)

Overall in this and the next couple of sections, I really like the designers use of berms, vertical plantings, multiple paths and varied styles to create multiple spaces that have multiple uses and feel relatively screened from the roads.



This one is looking right at Congress and the huge vent building across the street.


And here without the vertical you can see though to Congress. Also the sidewalk side has not been neglected.


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Old 07-09-2014, 07:44 PM   #37
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Re: Boston Parks/Green Spaces

Pearl to Oliver (Greenway)



So on the right there's a lawn space, and the left you enter a different space with benches.


And then looking back (southwest) on the same block there are two separate spaces, a different lawn space, and another path to the right (not seen here) with a different landscaping.


The effect is to give you different outdoor rooms, and places where different uses and groups can have segregated space.

And from the last photo the path to the right looks like this. More of a walking path, with no benches and some close in flowers and plants.



And then a small sneak view through to the Fire Dept.

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Old 07-09-2014, 07:51 PM   #38
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Re: Boston Parks/Green Spaces

Oliver to High (Greenway)
And now a ramps parcel which has nice views and the ramps aren't particularly felt at all.



And then this space at the end, which somehow feels to be missing something. No doubt the benches are well used during lunch, and I am sure it's an issue of cost, but it just feels like there could be a little more here. An interesting sculpture, or water feature. Or some planters with a few small amazing colors.



There's just a lot of brick paving on the back side of this.

And then the view through Rowes Wharf.

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Old 07-09-2014, 08:17 PM   #39
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Re: Boston Parks/Green Spaces

Central, Long and Commercial Wharf

The whole Aquarium area was obviously very busy. I don't think it particularly lacks anything. Maybe some improvements in the winter when it's a tough place to be.



Obviously it would be great to improve the Harbour Towers Garage area.


Long Wharf seems to do pretty well.





I'm not sure how they get away with licensing this bar. But I'm glad to see it.



Even at the end where there is lots of contention about whether to put in a bar etc.



And then there's this lovely park at Commerical which I had never really stopped by.

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Old 07-09-2014, 08:20 PM   #40
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Re: Boston Parks/Green Spaces

Puopolo Park (North End)

An empty baseball field and an absolutely packed swimming pool with a view.



Sorry for the quality of the shot, it was hard to get a good place to take it.

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