City plans renovations, public art for Town Field park

By 
Dave Eisenstadter, Special to the Reporter
Jan. 16, 2014

Town Field is home to the All Dorchester Sports League and other baseball and softball groups locally. Above, an ADSL t-ball game in 2010. Photo by Bill Forry

Last renovated in 1998, the fields at Fields Corner’s Doherty Gibson Park — more commonly called Town Field— will get a $275,000 facelift starting this summer, along with a public art project that is still in development. Residents at a community meeting held last Thursday, Jan. 9 at the Cleveland Community Center gave their input with some saying that the park’s current condition is an embarrassment.

Among the issues the renovations will hope to address are drainage, fence repair, repair to the batting cages. The playground will not be included in the renovation, said Allison Perlman, project manager for the Boston Parks and Recreation Department.

“We’re focusing on the fields to bring them up to what you guys will hopefully be proud of when out of town leagues come into our city,” said Perlman. The renovations will begin in late August and be completed by winter, she said.

After a brief presentation, Perlman opened the discussion up to the community members.

“We want to hear what is the most important thing so we can get a list going and figure out: this is priority one,” Perlman said.

Kevin Monahan, a board member and coach for the All Dorchester Sports League, said the city’s priorities should shift. He said spending lots of money on an art project would be a pity when there is so much work that needs doing on the park itself.

“People are urinating in puddles; it’s health issues,” Monahan said. “The batting cage has been dysfunctional as long as I can remember and it is dangerous because kids climb on top.”

Parks and Recreation Chief Landscape Architect Liza Meyer said the art project would be funded through alternative sources, including the Edward Ingersoll Browne Fund.

Candice Gartley, Executive Director of the All Dorchester Sports League, said vehicles driving within the park have become a hazard.
“While there’s games and what-have-you, it can’t be a parking lot and a park at the same time,” Gartley said. “I would like to go forward this season and restrict parking on the field. It’s a dangerous situation.”

Monahan added that the park can be unsafe at night.

“When the park is not properly used, it’s improperly used, and we want to stop that,” he said.

The renovations will be designed by Warner Larson Associates, according to Meyer. Regardless of what happens, the park will continue to be used for baseball and softball, she said.

Fields Corner Main Street Executive Director Evelyn Darling said she would like to see a flat space for volleyball and other outdoor events.
“There is a huge amount of space there that is totally underutilized,” Darling said.

Karin Goodfellow of the Boston Art Commission told those who attended the meeting that the commission was looking for input on ideas for the public art project.

“We’re hoping to see a lot more public art going on than we have in the past, and broaden the type of art we’re looking at and thinking about,” Goodfellow said. “This is community driven.”

Jean Mineo, a consultant to the Browne Fund, said the idea is that the art project will be a monument to freedom. That includes a tribute to veterans, but also those who seek freedom from poverty and crime.

“It needs to do more than be a singular monument; it needs to address this community,” she said, adding that the community is made up of diverse immigrant groups.

Residents suggested that the art project could be a place where people could come to learn history, or have benches where people could rest. Another resident suggested that the art encompass the entire park to bring people in to look at each section of it.

Vivian Girard of the Dorchester Five Streets Neighborhood Association said the art also had to be durable.

“In this neighborhood, make sure it can withstand a baseball bat and that it will be serviceable if someone spray painted it,” Girard said. “Assume it will be spray painted; it’s going to happen.”

Further meetings will take place regarding the design and the art project, once they are completed, according to Meyer.

To provide comments about the renovation, contact Perlman at allison.perlman@boston.gov or Meyer at liza.meyer@boston.gov. For input regarding the art project, email Goodfellow at Karin.goodfellow@cityofboston.gov.

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