Vision for park renovation becomes clearer

The vision for the renovation of McLaughlin Park is becoming clearer as the City moves closer to a final plan that will have a loop path around the upper terrace, a restored Ben’s Tower and an overlook terrace.

The City presented the latest on the renovation of McLaughlin Park, which is located between Parker Hill and Fisher avenues on top of Parker Hill, during a community meeting Sept. 29 at New England Baptist Hospital. Six community members attended the meeting.

Meanwhile, the City continues to wait to hear about grant funding that would boost the budget for the project from $270,000 to $430,000.

“We thought we would have heard by now, but we haven’t,” said Allison Perlman, a project manager for the Boston Parks and Recreation Department (BPRD).

D.J. Chagnon of CBA Landscape Architects, the company hired to design the renovation, displayed a plan of the project. The work would: lay a loop path around the upper terrace; build an overlook area along the southeastern portion of the terrace; repair Ben’s Tower; add a new set of stairs from the upper terrace to the lower terrace; and address other maintenance issues.

Ben’s Circular Tower is a memorial for Ben Beland, according to the Boston Art Commission website. Beland, who died of cancer, was a child from Mission Hill who enjoyed playing at the park. The tower, which has large stones arranged in a circle and is designed to look like a castle, was created by artist Mags Harries.

The plan appears to be a culmination of three different schemes the City had community members weigh in on during earlier meetings and through an online survey.

Mission Hill resident Alison Pultinas took issue with the location of the overlook area, saying she is “very concerned” about the slope and people scrambling between either terrace. Chagnon countered that that could be mitigated with shrubs and other plantings.

Other issues raised were people possibly using the overlook area as a barbecue place, and how the park will be maintained once it has been renovated. Perlman said that BPRD is “actively thinking about a long-term strategy” about the maintenance issue.

Chagnon said that after the budget is calculated for the aforementioned plan, there might be additional money left for other potential improvements. He handed out a survey to attendees to gauge their interest. Those other improvements include expanding the scope of the Ben’s Tower restoration, replacing the Parker Hill Avenue guardrail with a low wall, and adding more seating along the walking path.

Perlman said that the input collected at the meeting will be used to create a final plan, which will be emailed to attendees at the meeting to comment on.

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