-By Phil Orlandella
The second of three scheduled meetings to plan for the rehabilitation of DeFilippo Playground was recently held by the City of Boston Parks and Recreation Department and the consulting firm of Crosby Schlessinger Smallbridge.
A good size group of North End residents attended to listen to proposed plans and options based on community feedback.
The playground, which abuts Prince and Snow Hill Streets, is a very active place for residents of all ages, especially during the fall, summer and spring.
Construction costs for the project “Capital Funding” is about $275,000 but there is some speculation that Boston City Councilor Sal LaMattina is attempting to secure some additional funds for construction costs.
Cathy Baker-Eclipse from the Parks Department and Tamar Zimmerman from CSS gave an overall presentation of what suggestions residents and caretakers thought the playground should turn into.
Based on two public meetings and a meeting with a North End moms group and various caretakers organizations, the City will go back to the drawing board and attempt to incorporate their suggestions into current potential plans.
While many things were talked about, three major items came up consistently, drainage, lighting and the undesirables that are using the playground to use and sell drugs.
Dog and human droppings were also a major concern with some residents calling the playground unhealthy. One resident said “only a hazmat team could clean the upper levels.” Another resident deemed the playground as the “most dangerous park in the North End.”
Many ideas were presented by the Parks Department, their consultant and residents. They included a tot lot and an area for older children, teens and seniors.
More adult activities were also suggested besides the handball, hockey and basketball courts. Additional benches, game and picnic tables, bike racks, fencing, tree pruning and bicycle paths. The one thing most residents agreed on is no skate boarding in the playground.
Boston Police Sgt. Tom Lema advised residents that in order to make the playground safer, besides using police officers, was to prune trees, add more lighting and to advise police of any suspicious activities immediately. More visibility makes it much easier to secure the playground, Lema noted.
The third and possibly final meeting on the playground development will be held on Monday, April 4 at 6:30pm in the Nazzaro Community Center, 30 North Bennet Street.