Allan Rohan Crite Park was no more than a brick wall for decades until recent plans to overhaul it into another gem on Columbus Avenue surfaced last year and have gone into overdrive this spring and summer.
Such a bland tribute to a world-renowned artist who portrayed life in full color, was hardly acceptable for Southender Cheryl Dickinson, and so she and other neighbors and the Ellis South End Neighborhood Association linked up to bring the area to life.
And judging by the designs of Monique Hall of BFC Group, that is exactly what intends to happen there.
Dickinson said they will have a reveal meeting in person at the Park on Weds., Aug. 12, at 6 p.m. with a 3-D viewing stations at a social distance and the ability to ask questions about the design. The rain date will be Monday, Aug. 17, and a Zoom online meeting will take place on Weds., Aug. 26, at 6 p.m.
She said a survey prior to the conceptual design indicated people wanted a spot with lots of shade, they wanted a tranquil spot for respite, they wanted to honor Allan Crite’s work, and they wanted a place for community events.
“We liked the idea of having an active park, not a passive park,” said Dickinson. “People say not another pretty face; we say not another pretty space…For the emphasis on shade, the whole perimeter will be large trees and we’ll get as large as we can afford. We are taking down six trees and putting up eight. Four of the existing trees are dead though and all of them haven’t been pruned since 1986.”
Inside, there will be three separate pergolas to protect people from the sun and to add a “living room” aspect to the space. Some laser cut aluminum placed above will allow the sun to shine through and create patterns on the floor of the park. The pergolas will also solve a problem that has been ongoing with aphids landing on people sitting below the Linden trees.
To honor Crite, the space will feature reproductions of six of his most representative pieces of the South End in an art walk. The Museum of Fine Arts and the African American Museum of Arts will provide them.
“These are six pieces that depict the narrative Crite was aiming for in his art – showing African American people living in the South End in the 1930s and 1940s,” she said.
To activate the park, they plan to have several events, including an annual blockbuster Storytelling Night. The first Storytelling Night will feature speakers who knew Crite and will talk and tell stories about him.?
The next step will be to apply to the Community Preservation Committee for funding to supplement the significant amount they have already raised. This week, they have been to the South End Landmarks Commission to present the plans and got positive reviews. Now, they just need to see what the community says and find a way to pay for it.
“It’s time for us to start trying to make this park a reality,” she said.
•Crite Park Board Members: Maryellen Hassell, Betsy Hall, Jennifer Girvin, Ryan Gossing, Regina Pyle, Paul Wilcox, Linda Esposito, Cheryl Dickinson, president.
Frieda Garcia, Councilor Ed Flynn, Gary Bailey, Anthony Gordon, Jackie Cox-Crite, Clare Corcoran, and Charlie Rose.