By Jordan Frias
Design options for the Tremont Street side of the Boston Common were shared at a public briefing meeting on February 25.
Gary Claiborne, project manager at Pressley Associates, the local landscape architect firm that was hired by the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, presented a potential design to a group of residents and community stakeholders, including the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau, Friends of the Public Garden and Freedom Trail Foundation.
Most of the changes discussed were around the vicinity of the Visitors Information Center, better known as Parkman Plaza.
If approved, the design would include extending the fence and grass by the Boylston Street MBTA head house from the Avery Street intersection to the crosswalk in front of the information center and would require removing the planters and trees that line the street currently.
A local Tremont Street resident argued that it would block off access to the Boston Massacre/Crispus Attucks Memorial walkway from Tremont Street, a popular exit and entryway into the Common, which would require people to walk an additional 500 feet to exit the park from the crosswalk.
Margaret Dyson, director of historic parks for the Parks and Recreation Department, said the change is meant to be “a safety measure” to prevent people from jaywalking.
“There’s a lot of concern of a lot of people flowing out onto the street,” she told the audience.
Other suggestions in the design include replacing the circular island in front of the information center with two smaller islands and removing all flags that surround it. Both islands would have a tree, light pole and flag pole in them. A banner would be attached to both light poles displaying an italicized letter “i” – an internationally recognized symbol – to identify where the information center is located. Seat walls would replace the benches in the area currently.
Claiborne said these changes would address the concern that the information center itself needs to be better identified and would “open up the area” to increase the “free flow of traffic.”
Another suggestion includes positioning the three sculptures surrounding the island to an area beside the Park Street head house, closest to the information center, to increase their visibility and group them together.
Renovation plans also include repairing a part of the concrete walkway, known as the Lafayette Mall, which stretches from one end of the Tremont Street side to the other, and restoring the Independence Monument on that stretch. A small parking area would also be created beside the information center for park rangers.
Once approved, the design will move forward and will go out to bid for completion. No timeline has been set for the process yet.