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.