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How would you invest $28 million in Boston Common?

The city wants your opinion

A park. There is a path that has a large expanse of green lawn on each side. In the distance is a city skyline. There is a blue sky. Shutterstock

Boston Common is getting some much needed attention. Thanks to the sale of the Winthrop Garage, our 50-acre, 385-year-old green space has a dedicated budget of $28 million to fund infrastructure improvements and increase the park’s resiliency.

The work detailed in the Boston Common Master Plan is projected to take 18 months, and includes a range of initiatives: The development of a set of principles, goals and objectives to guide the work, an inventory of the park’s existing conditions and resources, an assessment of current and future park needs, and the public engagement process that is happening now. The final plan will define a vision and strategy to revitalize the space.

Some key areas identified for investment are the Frog Pond and pathways, which will be improved and widened. Everything just needs to withstand heavy use, New England weather, and the test of time. And Weston & Sampson, the consultant team, has a small army to make it happen: landscape architects will work with civil, structural, and infrastructure engineers, environmental site professionals, and stormwater experts. Weston & Sampson has been studying the park and meeting with stakeholder groups since April 2019.

“This outreach process is designed to make sure that the Boston Common truly lives up to its reputation as ‘the people’s park’—accessible and welcoming to all, supporting a wide variety of uses that reflect the needs of the community today and into the future,” said Liz Vizza, Executive Director of the Friends of the Public Garden.

“Boston Common has always been a park by and for the people of our city,” said Boston Parks commissioner Ryan Woods. And to make America’s oldest park better, the Boston Parks and Recreation Department and Friends of the Public Garden (a.k.a. the Friends) want to hear from you: when you visit, how often, and how safe you feel, for instance. And since the slate is relatively blank, suggestions and new ideas are wanted, too.

The goal, according to the Master Plan website, is to “achieve an atmosphere of civic access and engagement with a profound sense of identity and a deep-rooted connection to this historic yet vibrant city.” What does that mean? Well, it could mean more benches, landscaping, public workshops, gardens, and sculptures like Embrace, the MLK memorial. You can fill out the online survey through December 31 to offer feedback.

For the next month, you can also attend one of the pop-up Park Presence Days throughout Boston and the Common. These in-person gatherings have a movable kiosk, named the ‘mini common,’ where you can learn more about the master planning effort and leave your own ideas. Here’s where and when you can participate:

  • Monday, August 19th, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
    Mini Common, Maverick T Station in East Boston
  • Sunday, August 25th, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
    Mini Common, Open Newbury on Newbury Street in Back Bay
  • Friday, September 6th, 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
    Park Presence Day, Frog Pond Movie Night, Boston Common
  • Saturday, September 7th, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
    Mini Common, Chinatown Main Street Lantern Festival, Chinatown Gate at the Greenway
  • Friday, September 13th, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
    Mini-Common, Mission Hill Farmer’s Market, Roxbury Crossing
  • Tuesday, September 17th, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
    Park Presence Day, Brewer Fountain, Boston Common