The coziest corner in the South End is looking to get a boost from the current Community Preservation Act funding round, with the Eight Streets Neighborhood Association (ESNA) announcing they are in the process of applying for funds to spruce up Watson Park and Little Watson.
Eight Streets had its first online meeting on Tuesday night with a busy agenda that included Councilor Ed Flynn and a lively discussion on plans to upgrade Watson Park.
“We are seeking CPA funding and the application is due this month,” said Ramy Rizkalla. “In order to get the program going, we engaged landscape architect Jon Pate who lives in the neighborhood. He guided Symphony Park through the process and it turned out great. This park is not owned by the neighborhood. It’s owned by Parks and Recreation. They have the final say. Any changes would also have to go through Landmarks.”
The current CPA funding round is now accepting applications, which are due this month and will be evaluated this fall. Announcements for funding awards are typically made in January or February for the fall round.
Pate said he has come up with a preliminary plan that focused on the priorities neighbors gave him. That included better safety by lowering the fence to about 28 inches high, making it ADA accessible, include a gathering space for small groups, and to add composted dirt to help and enhance plantings.
The centerpiece of the design is a gathering area in the middle that is made of pavers and surrounded by a retaining wall that would act as seat walls. There would be new benches and some additional plantings to enhance what is already there. They would also include new concrete pavers to replace the brick path so it is sturdier and ADA accessible. The far corner would include a less-visible gravel path so that neighbors in the back could access the park from their gates, as they do now.
A lowered fence on the perimeter would be installed, and that fencing would also be taken inside along the pathway in Watson to protect existing plantings. Large-scale addition of composted dirt would help to reduce the compaction of the soil and make plantings more successful.
The plan was seen in a very positive way by neighbors attending the online meeting. There was some hope that the lonely southwest corner of the park could get something exciting, but Pate said the soil conditions, tree canopy and slope prevented much from happening there. He said keeping it open also pre-vented anyone from hiding in there, or rats from making hidden burrows there.
•Councilor Flynn Joins Meeting
A highlight of the Eight Streets meeting was the appearance of Councilor Ed Flynn for a short presentation and questions from constituents. Flynn first ex-pressed his support for the Watson Park CPA funding, but the remainder of the conversations centered on Mass/Cass and quality of life issues.
Echoing what Mayor Martin Walsh told the South End Forum last week, Flynn said it’s time for suburban communities to begin offering drug treatment programs in their communities.
He amplified that by saying when he worked in the Probation Department, if he had 80 probationers to oversee, some 60 had come from outside of Boston on transfers from other counties.
“I think Bostonians are incredibly compassionate,” he said. “I just don’t think we can maintain this any longer. I think if you have a case outside of Suffolk County, that case shouldn’t be transferred to Suffolk county for supervision or pro-bation. I’m committed to working with the community on quality of life issues…I think cities and towns across Massachusetts need to do more and not rely on Boston to help people with medical issues and drug treatment issues. There is a big need for facilities outside of Boston.”
•BUTCHER SHOP SEEKS LIQUOR LICENSE
The Butcher Shop on Tremont Street is seeking a full liquor license, which is an upgrade from their beer and wine license now. The restaurant is hosting an online meeting for neighbors Thursday, Oct. 15, said President Michael Almond. That process had started before COVID-19, but was put on hold. Now they are resuming the process, he said.
The next event for Eight Streets will be an online Holiday Social on Dec. 8. Look for more details in the coming weeks on that.