Committee Seeks Improvements to Local Parks and Open Spaces

More than 60 North End residents turned out for last week’s North End/Waterfront Residents’ Association Parks and Open Spaces Committee monthly meeting held at the Nazzaro Community Center.

Boston City Councilor Sal LaMattina and Boston Parks and Recreation Commissioner Antonia Pollak were invited to discuss several issues, concerns and answer questions relating to future plans for the neighborhood’s open spaces.

Representative Aaron Michlewitz, who is working with Councilor LaMattina to have the city take over some land on Cross Street between Hanover and Salem Streets, was also at the public meeting.

A report was given on the current restoration taking place at the Copps Hill Burial Grounds on the Charter Street side to replace the fencing.

Residents suggested that any future plans by the city at the site should include solar lighting at both entrances, tombstones should be remounted and repaired and more plants should be placed in the cemetery which is listed on the National Register.

Copps Hill Terrace, located on Charter Street across from the burial ground, was also targeted for some major repairs including the removal of growing ivy that is destroying trees and has grown between the granite stones pushing out the mortar that holds them in place. The terrace is also listed on the National Register.

Several other topics were part of the agenda including repairs to the Prado, Rachel Revere Park, DiFilippo Playground (Gassy), Foster Street Playground, Cross Street sidewalk, Cutillo Playground and the city’s FY 14 Parks budget related to the North End.

Currently, Foster Street Playground is being used as a residential parking lot based on an agreement with the city, according to Pollak. She noted that several sinkholes in the park need to be repaired and the cars will be removed.

When asked if the playground will be returned to a residential parking lot Pollak said, “That will be up to the community.”

Cutillo Playground on Morton Street appears to be in good condition, however, residents claim the park is hardly used because of a major trash problem on the street that’s creating a rodent problem.

Residents claim businesses and residents are dumping their trash on the street continuously. In addition, residents claim the street is in dire need of repair. The trash problem was resolved once before and Councilor LaMattina and Commissioner Pollak said they would “deal with it immediately.”

Usage of the three levels in the Gassy was also a topic of discussion. The playground, according to residents, is used as a hangout where drinking and drugs use are taking place. It is also being used as a toilet for dogs and desperately needs to be cleaned.

Residents would like to have lighting placed on the flights and possibly create social or recreational activities on them. Pollak noted that one of the flights could be used as a dog park and she is working with RUFF on this possibility.

Councilor LaMattina is attempting to create more activities on Cross Street and would like to place planters on the site as well.

Rachel Revere Park needs major repairs including a paint job and possibly new benches. The park is located across from the Paul Revere House is used by local schools for recess and recreational programs. Residents use the park as a place to sit and relax, enjoy the sun and the company of friends and neighbors.

“The committee is seeking to build a relationship with the Parks Department to improve open spaces within the North End,” according to committee member David Kubiak. “One of the committee’s priorities includes a needs assessment and master plan for the Prado (Paul Revere Mall between Hanover and Unity Streets),” he added.

“The flights in the DiFilippo Park (Gassy) on Prince Street needs restoration and a plan for reuse,” Kubiak noted.

The next committee meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 4 at 7pm in the Nazzaro Community Center.

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