by Cat Scott in Accessibility, Environment and Open Space, Investigative Reports, Neighborhoods and Squares, Schools and Youth
Posted on August 7, 2009 at 11:20 pm
Last Modified on September 3, 2009 at 5:36 pm
Many Somerville residents are not aware that the City manages 46 parks, playgrounds and ball fields for residents. City of Somerville parks map here (jpeg)
With this astonishing number comes certain responsibilities on the part of the city, such as upkeep and accessibility.
The City of Somerville’s website provides a great deal of documentation around plans and projects related to Open Spaces and Recreational Areas.
For example, the Somerville Open Spaces and Recreation Plan for 2008-2013 (which was recently sent to the State’s Exec Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs/Div of Conservation Services in compliance with the MA Urban Self-Help program) states that “the need to renovate existing parks and open spaces is a clear mandate for the City to promote health, safety and well-being for all residents.” This document states that approximately 20% of our Parks are in need of renovation; and, that the investments in Parks generally hold for about 20 years.
The City says it is working hard to renovate and maintain the city’s parks and playgrounds, and expand open space opportunities across the city. The Parks and Open Spaces website, with links for Plans, Programs and projects is here
Several of us bloggers are collaborating with neighbors as we visit the playgrounds that are maintained by the City. We’d like to see how far the City has come with their Open Space and Parks planning and implementation; offer some encouragement and suggestions; and provide a venue for interested residents to ask questions and/or provide comments (anonymously or not). We have visited 8 parks and/or playgrounds so far, and see a mixed bag. Some provide only adequate accessibility, while others appear to have been created with a great deal of thoughtful planning- yet are not maintained very well.
Each review will contain recent photos- this first review includes photos taken July ’09. As we continue to check certain details, we will add them to each article. As the results of neighbor-requested investigations become available, we’ll add them to these reviews. Please send us your questions and suggestions so that we can focus on the stories you find compelling!
Hodgkins – Curtis Park
Located on Holland St., between Simpson and Paulina Streets, between Davis and Teele Squares.
This park offers 2 playgrounds as well as a large baseball field. Adults come here as well as children, often for picnicking, exercise, sunbathing and sports play like Frisbee or baseball. The playground appears to be in good condition, and the baseball field looks quite good. However, the play equipment for non-tots sports a cracked slide.
The City covered the top of the slide with a wood board to prevent children from sliding down.
That Band-Aid of a solution doesn’t look like it will prevent kids from trying to climb up this broken fixture- if they do, they can certainly get hurt!
There was also a mixture of dirt and glass on the other slide- we wondered, is there a maintenance schedule published for Somerville’s playgrounds? We haven’t found one.
What’s great is that the City of Somerville has a projected plan for renovations to this park. There is no official start date for these renovations yet. Design concepts are available online for citizens of Somerville to look at, and they even provide an email address for comments.
This park is located within Davis Square, at the corner of Grove Street and Highland Avenue.
This park is in OK shape with a lot of different play elements for children, Here is a wheels element for future motorists.
This park has a street-level entrance (SEE UPDATE,below, regarding the inaccessibility of this entrance); however it leads to an immediate obstacle for people with mobility impairments.
The ground surface is old loose fill, which may conform with standards from the American Society for Testing and Materials- see ASTM – yet, it appears too loose to provide wheelchair maneuverability. [SEE UPDATE, BELOW, regarding problems with this old surface material.]
There are some maintenance issues, such as graffiti on the slide.
The park has a basketball court, which has exciting pick-up games, and a shaded courtyard sitting area with plenty of benches.
corner of Summer and Craigie Streets
Walking down Summer Street, this playground is almost impossible to miss with its large metal canopy and benched sitting area.
There are ramps that lead down to an incredibly large basketball court. We will need to measure the ramps for slopes and other details to see if they conform to safe and accessible slopes and transitions. For example, the picture below shows a change in level that may be over 1/2 inch- which would pose a safety issue for both motorized and manual wheelchair users.
The court is clean with hardly any debris. Everything is in great shape, so while some folks in the area may have to bring some toys to play with, there is plenty of room to run around for children and parents alike!
Although Morse-Kelley Park appears to be in excellent shape, the City has allocated $45,000 of Federal Community Development Block grant funds from the additional Recovery Act monies to “hire landscape professionals” and redesign this park. We can’t quite figure that one out. (SEE: City of Somerville 08/09 Substantial Amendment Plans (pdf), sent to HUD with very little public comment.)
Spring Hill area, connecting Belmont Street and Lowell Street.
Located between Belmont Street and Lowell Street, Bailey Park is a beautiful area with plenty of trees and shrubbery. Accessible by four ramps (after slopes are checked with a digital level, this report will include those measurements), the sitting area surrounds a large shrub.
This park is an ideal space for reading, sunbathing, or picnicking on a nice day. The greenery is incredibly well-trimmed, and the area is pristine without any trash around.
Ward 4, Craigie Street across from the Dante Club
Surrounded by an elaborately built stone wall, and with an entire wall of the basketball court depicting children of all types celebrating playtime together in a mural, this park has fallen into disrepair after so much money was clearly spent renovating it in 1997/1998.
The ground of the play area has tons of holes in it, some of them so deep that children could easily trip and fall in them.
There are many interesting play elements for children, such as a sliding bar, a bridge, a xylophone, a giant wheel, a fountain, and a rock climbing wall.
At the August 9, 2008 Board of Alderman meeting, a resolution was sponsored by Alds. Taylor, Sullivan, Connolly, Desmond and White to prioritize this park for renovations in 2008. Two years later, the City has included the redesign of Dickerman Park as another CDBG-eligible project and designated 45,000 of those Federal funds towards redesigning this .41 acre park. The city claims that this will result in 2 part-time jobs during the 6-month course of the design project.
Meanwhile, neighbors are planning a Dickerman Park cookout and discussion to generate ideas and plans for this park, and we welcome their posts, which will be the gold standard for information about the future of this community space.