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Charles River Esplanade Ideas: Ferris Wheel, Lagoons, Pool!

The big Charles River Esplanade announcement came and went last night, and left a vision for the 3-mile, 63-acre park that, while maybe falling short of making it the best in the world, certainly makes it different. The esplanade, in short, could become that much more friendly for bikers and walkers (and strollers) and less so for cars, which is kind of the point. Big changes proposed by the nonprofit Esplanade Association include:

· a pedestrian walkway that juts out into the Charles River
· an expansive terrace near the Hatch Shell
· a year-round cafe opposite that
· a widened bridge over Storrow Drive, with vendors on the sides, to serve as an esplanade gateway
· a rebuilt B.U. Sailing Pavilion with observation deck
· a pool complex at Charlesbank
· a Ferris wheel (!) next to the Museum of Science, where a parking garage now is
· new lagoons and sitting areas around a redone memorial to 19th-century landscape architect Charles Eliot
· new playing fields throughout
· fresh historical markers throughout that might unify the park thematically
· a general upgrade of the grass, which can be patchy in places, and of the park's infrastructure, some of which is downright crumbling into the Charles

Of course, it's all in the planning stages right now and open to public debate. And paying for it will be a haul: the state Department of Conservation and Recreation already needs about $2 billion just to pay for maintenance and upgrades at parks all over Massachusetts. Will the Esplanade get its due? Stay tuned, this ain't no walk in the park.

· Creative Spin on Esplanade [Herald]
· Friends' Blueprint Expands Esplanade Access, Amenities [Globe]
· The Charles River Esplanade as 'World's Best Park?' [Curbed Boston]