As a college student who walks through the Boston Common to get to class on time and overlooks the park from my dorm window, it is refreshing to know that the Boston Parks and Recreation Department has created a Master Plan initiative to enhance the flow, look, and use of the Common. On Wednesday, September 16th the Boston Parks and Rec department along with their partners, Friends of the Public Garden and Weston and Sampson, held a virtual Open House via zoom to discuss their goals for the Common and how they plan on executing their goals. I attended the meeting along with one hundred and seventeen others located in and around the Boston area, listening to how the Parks and Rec department discuss how they want to maintain the integrity of the Boston Common while creating a more sustainable and high functioning area for anyone to enjoy.
The Parks and Rec department has been extremely responsive toward what frequent Common goers are looking to see improve, confirming the multiple studies done to show how the government responds to public opinion, as governments generally tend to change their policies depending on the opinion from the public. Specifically, the Parks and Rec department is looking to add amenities such as more restrooms and off-leash dog areas, protecting greenery, and expanding food offerings, all of which individuals have commented on improving upon. With fifty acres of land, there is plenty of enhancement to focus on other than what the public has suggested, as they have recognized the high utilization of the athletic areas in the Common and are looking to add a multi-use sixty-foot rectangular athletic field, for example. Cheri Ruane of Weston and Sampson discussed this topic as well, explaining that the Boston Common needs more clarity around certain spaces due to high pedestrian traffic, informing everyone that improving these spaces also requires easier access for handicapped usage. All of these developments will not only make the Boston Common livelier but will provide a space for others that will increase psychological and physical health throughout the community. Studies also show that improving city parks also benefits the economy as it will attract tourists to stay in hotels and attract homebuyers who are looking to be a part of a nice community and have an appealing view. Upgrading parks has also been seen to bring in nearly 1.1 million jobs and produce greater than $154 billion in economic activity.
By the end of the presentation, it was made clear that these improvements were going to take time as the discussion was opened up to the viewers. The main concern mentioned was the panhandling and drug issues that occur in the Boston Common. However, it is known that progressing local parks decrease the amount of disorderly behavior, as the parks increase the amount of activities children can participate in, as well as providing them with new opportunities and facilities. Therefore, the changes the Parks and Rec department are making to the Boston Common will create a family-friendly environment and decrease the issues with panhandling the public has been concerned about. The more immediate solution the Parks and Rec department has exercised is that they have been working with the Boston Public Health Committee as well as the Boston Police to quickly respond and improve these conditions.
I believe that The Boston Common Master Plan is an excellent proposal that will benefit the city of Boston for years to come. Although it is a long-term plan, it will assist in guiding the Parks and Rec department in improving the Common where it is needed most. Attending this engagement showed me how much this department cares about their community, and I am eager to see the changes they make as well as other projects they may have in the works.
Boston Common Master Plan, www.bostoncommonmasterplan.com/. Accessed 16 Oct 2020.
“Economic Benefits of Parks.” ConservationTools, conservationtools.org/guides/98-economic-benefits-of-parks. Accessed 16 Oct 2020.
Ginsberg, Benjamin, et al. We the People. 12th ed., W.W. Norton & Company, 2018.
Jones, Cort. “The Economic Impact of Parks and Recreation.” Icma.org, 27 July 2018, icma.org/blog-posts/economic-impact-parks-and-recreation. Accessed 16 Oct 2020.
“Section 6. Improving Parks and Other Community Facilities.” Chapter 26. Changing the Physical and Social Environment | Section 6. Improving Parks and Other Community Facilities | Main Section | Community Tool Box, ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/implement/physical-social-environment/parks-community-facilities/main. Accessed 16 Oct 2020.
I am enjoying your paper. It is an excellent paper. I am so glad that you brought up the Park and Rec department planning to improve the Boston Common park by adding amenities, such as more restrooms and off-leash dog areas, protecting greenery, and expanding food offerings. However, increased amenities are not an immediate solution to make the Park better. I agree with you that the panhandling and drug issues is the main point of the Boston Common. Through my experience, I have seen a drug and drunk people and smelled marijuana next to the T station while I was walking through the Park. I think many tourists sometimes are afraid of security. I recommend that the Park and Rec department prioritize reducing a drug and drunk people and marijuana’s smell in Boston Common first. Then, it will make the Park look better and feel more secure. Later is to improve the Boston Common area. Due to improving the area, it might be easier to do rather than a security problem.
Boston Common has long been a part of my commute to and from class as well as work at the State House, and I can appreciate the Department of Parks and Recreation’s dedication to making the common a place for everyone. The upkeep and integrity of public parks is nothing without the public. While the department’s plan of adding restrooms, off-leash dog areas and an athletic field would certainly make the Common a livelier place to relax downtown, I agree that the project should focus on reducing panhandling in order to make it a family-friendly environment. I am not sure what can be done about drug use as it is a public area, although I have noticed a police cruiser stationed at the T station nearby most nights. If the goal is to make the Common safer and more family friendly, what action should the city take to clean up the area? Upgrading Boston Common and adding new facilities and opportunities for improving psychological and physical health is a wonderful plan if it can be done without too much delay. It is also great you were able to attend this event, as the relatively large turnout demonstrates the city and department does care about what the public think. I am eager as well to see if the proposed changes are enacted.