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Revamped Boston Common could include more trees, benches and restrooms, a bigger playground and a soccer field that could also be used for events

New Frog Pond

Half the Frog Pond would go from wading pool to splash pad.

The city yesterday released its Boston Common Master Plan, an "aspirational" set of goals for bringing the nation's oldest park into the 21st century as a more inclusive, less confusing area for Bostonians and visitors to relax and play in.

Known as the "people's park," the Boston Common requires a plan that coalesces many competing needs to create a unified vision that will serve the people of Boston and visitors alike. Five principles are set forth to guide all recommendations. They focus on shared use and care, visitor experience and engagement, and the balance of upholding historic character and serving contemporary needs. An inclusive stakeholder and public involvement process helped develop the goals and objectives that underpin the master plan vision and guiding principles.

The proposal calls for better signage to lead visitors to the Common's various attractions - including the under-construction "Embrace" Martin Luther King memorial - and even attempt to better define the Common as a unique park. The report cites the current exit onto Charles Street and the plaza along Tremont Street as current weaknesses:

At the two MBTA stations, people often dash to the subway, not considering that the plaza space is actually park land. The mid-block entrance on Charles Street is often misunderstood as moving between two parts of the same greenspace instead of leaving one (the Public Garden) and entering another (the Common). While this porosity between park and city speaks to the Common’s spirit of openness, the ambiguity also weakens the identity of the Common.

The proposal calls for lots more trees, and, based on renderings, extensive replanting and maintenance of lush, green grass fields.

Also proposed: A near tripling the size of the Tadpole Playground and converting one end of the Frog Pond into a large splash pad, and making both the playground and the Frog Pond ADA compliant.

Greater inclusion would include such steps as making the Parkman Bandstand accessible to people in wheelchairs and converting the land now used for one of the two baseball fields into a soccer field - which could double as a seating area for events requiring the stage that might be installed along one side.

Land near the bandstand would become new basketball courts and an enclosed dog park, with more than just grass as amenities for four-footed Bostonians.

Birds wonder where left and center field would be during a soccer match:

Proposed soccer field/baseball diamond

The tennis courts would be moved and overlaid with markings to allow their use as pickleball courts. More benches would be installed - and older, damaged ones replaced - but using more easily maintained steel supports instead of the concrete used today.

Signage will also play an important role in the new Common, the report says:

Finding your way through the Common is not intuitive; ironically, even the [visitor information center] is difficult to find. The visitor experience on the Common will be markedly improved by implementing a comprehensive approach to wayfinding and informational signage. Adding signs at critical nodes and informational markers at destination amenities will clarify wayfinding across the park. A combination of "You are Here" maps to each location will set expectations as to where park features are in relation to one another. The signs will be intentionally placed at locations that visually connect to one another, so visitors can easily move between markers until they reach their destination. Above all, it is important that the number and design of any new vertical signage be consistent with the Common's historic character.

Even the Earl of Sandwich, or as the report calls, it "the concession space" would get a redo to "make it a more functional outdoor eatery and small gathering space." The currently cramped visitor information center on Tremont Street would be expanded to add more restroom facilities and some "grab-and-go vending options."

The report proposes keeping one thing the same: The ban on bike riding in the park. Instead, it calls on BTD to fully implement a separate plan for protected bike paths along Tremont Street, Boylston Street, Beacon Street and Charles Street, so that bicyclists can safely navigate the surrounding streets without risking bowling over pedestrians inside the park:

The Common's park administrator, in coordination with Boston Police and Park Rangers, will encourage use of these dedicated bike lanes and continue to enforce the “No Biking” regulation in place on the Common.

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will there still be a guy jerking off in the corner near boylston street?

Voting closed 66

Marty would have put a soccer’s stadium for the Krafts there.

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Was he hoping to get some of that sweet, sweet Brett Favre grifted money?

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That would be wonderful and long past due!

Our main parks are so lacking compared to what other cities in both the US and Europe has. In Europe parks are for everyone (adults, children, dogs, bikers, walkers, skaters) and no one loses their minds.

I mean...actual toilets? A place where ppl could have a beer and a snack!?

Voting closed 30

Unless they plan on posting a security guard, providing public toilets is no different from opening a "shoot up here" shack. Part of the reason retail establishments have eliminated toilets for public access at large is they become magnets for the homeless, mentally ill, addicted, etc, and turn into maintenance and liability nightmares. Normal people suffer the consequences of this society refusing to take care of these people, and those people resort to corners and public sidewalks. Europe can have nice things like public facilities because those public facilities don't become default bottom barrel social resources, as the European countries have actual social resources. Asian countries can have (sparkling clean) public facilities, because their culture isn't psychotically individualist and "fuck you got mine" so the idea of locking yourself in a public bathroom, smearing shit all over the walls just because, and then taking a dope nap isn't acceptable. American cities just cannot handle the responsibility of a common toilet.

Maybe they can do some pay-toilets. Then they can afford to hire that security guard and full time janitor.

Voting closed 61

Except that there IS a public toilet with a security guard, at least during the summer months, and over the past several years. It's one of those toilet-trailers, and I've used them a lot. It's usually parked along Charles Street, in the Common and across from the Public Garden. It's clean and the security person makes sure they stay that way.

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Where even toilets needs security guards?

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I won't pretend to understand the ban on bikes in any areas of the park (why not limit it to wide paths) but making the connection from Charles street in beacon hill to the common more pedestrian friendly instead of needing multiple crossings would be huge.

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Green space should be green year round

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insert joke about needles on the ground

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But a park with an identity crisis? Wtf...

People dash because 1) they don't want to make eye contact with the ne'er-do-wells that congregate by the entrances and 2) to get a better spot to stand on the subway platform for the one hour wait until the next (already full) subway car creeps into the station.

Voting closed 50

You are a cranky old guy. And there's nothing wrong with that.

But "people" don't "dash", you dash, and some other people dash, for various reasons. And some linger, if they have the time. The Common is a really beautiful space already, why not make it more so, and why not make it more congenial for those who want to linger?

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Seems like investing in some security staff would be a cheaper way to make the park safer feeling, thus more welcoming, than a bunch of infrastructure investments that will fall apart due to lack of maintenance and provide more areas for people to sell drugs and guns to each other....

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"At the two MBTA stations, people often dash to the subway, not considering that the plaza space is actually park land. The mid-block entrance on Charles Street is often misunderstood as moving between two parts of the same greenspace instead of leaving one (the Public Garden) and entering another (the Common). "

What exactly are they proposing? Closing the Charles Street gate and obstructing the T entrances? Putting up giant signs saying, "Just so you know, this is parkland, and the Common is different from the Public Garden"? Really, who doesn't know the difference? My dad explained it to me during my first visit to Boston, and it wasn't hard for a kid to grasp.

It was only 5 years ago that they redid the plaza by the Visitor Center. They took a very pleasant circular plaza and redid it into a strange figure 8 that has obstructs the flow to the T entrance and has poor aesthetics. The allegoric statues are now shoved to the side in a clump. I hope they don't do more stuff like this.

As far as biking, they don't enforce the rule. Nor should they in my opinion, since biking across the Common is perfectly safe and very convenient. That's why people do it every day. How else are you supposed to bike from Charles Street on Beacon Hill to just about anywhere? I think they should take some of the very wide paths and stripe part of them for bikes.

What I'd like to see: improved maintenance of paths, trees, and lawns, and reduction of illegal antisocial behaviors.

Voting closed 50

You are allowed to bike on the Common.

You can't have the Public Garden. That's that. Go around.

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is cycling allowed in the Boston Common?

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But then again, dogs are also supposed to be on leashes LOL

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Would the master plan include more officers on patrol and constant cleanup of the homeless on the grounds and in the restrooms??? How about a Narcan dispensary?

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… the no smoking policy, that would be a huge improvement.
I’m not looking forward to the unveiling of that hideous looking MLK and CSK monument. What were the judges thinking!
The rest looks good. I’m glad they aren’t enlarging the athletic fields, just adapting them for multi use.
I enjoy seeing the dogs run free in rotating sections of the Common. I suspect the dog park will be filled with paw unfriendly gravel and reek of dog pee like the one in Peters Park.

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Today I learned Boston Common is not inclusive enough.

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Refugee doesn't have any mobility problems.

Glad to hear.

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...besides shadows.

That said, calling the plan "aspirational" is pretty much admitting defeat from the get-go.

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What have you got against all the planned tree planting?

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They should make it an additional one so we can call it the Commons

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