Art Park site is up for green development

The Art Park site is slated to become part of a “green building” project along with a site in Roxbury, the City announced recently.

The Mission Hill site, which is located between Parker and Terrace Street, was land the City acquired through tax foreclosure and was unsuccessful at redeveloping before, according to John Dalzell, a senior architect at the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

There will be community meeting to discuss the Roxbury and Mission Hill sites tomorrow, March 10 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Reggie Lewis Athletic Center. Dalzell said the city hopes to have several more meetings to gather community feedback before sending a request for bids in late spring or early summer.

The Mission Hill site currently holds several makeshift community gardens and the Art Park, an area with murals, mosaic footpath tiles and colorful furniture. The Art Park was first designed by Massachusetts College of Art and Design students seven years ago, and its maintenance has been handled by several different organizations over the years.

“It’s very neat,” Dalzell said of the Art Park. “It’s something the community got together and did.”

He added that moving forward, the City would work with the community to ensure the Art Park and the community gardens have a place at the site, whether at their current location or reconfigured nearby.

“It’s a homespun place,” said Dalzell. “We want to recognize that. That expression is really important. The site redevelopment will capture the spirit of the community.”

The Boston Redevelopment Authority and the Department of Neighborhood Development held a symposium March 1 at Roxbury Community College on green building and sustainable communities. The ideas discussed there will go towards the Mission Hill and Roxbury sites.

“The symposium was really the beginning of the discussion of the future of the two sites,” said Dalzell. “It was the start of the brainstorming session.”

The symposium focused on how to make a community sustainable, such as making it easier for people to walk to good and services. Dalzell noted that half to two-thirds of a person’s carbon footprint comes from transportation.

“We want to start the conversation thinking about broadening community sustainability,” said Dalzell. “What makes a community sustainable? What makes a place special to a community?”

The speakers at the symposium included Katie Swenson, vice president of design at Enterprise Community Partnerships, who discussed a project in the Bronx that has buildings with green roofs, according to Dalzell. The green roofs have garden beds and also room for people to walk around. With the area on the roof, plus the stairs in the building, it’s a design for circuit exercise training to promoting active living.

Also speaking were Chris Reed, founder of StoSS Landscape Urbanism, and Phillip Thompson, associate professor of Urban Politics at MIT. Reed discussed places similar to the Art Park around the country, and Thompson addressed various sustainable energy ideas, including natural gas microturbines to power and heat or cool a home.


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