City Councillor Rob Consalvo, state Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry, and Boston Parks Commissioner Antonia Pollak, City joined with Mattapan residents last Friday morning for the groundbreaking of Hunt Playground at Almont Park, the first phase of a $796,000 project that will renovate the entire 18-acre park.
“I’m delighted to be here,” Pollak said. “It really is an exciting time. I know how hard this community has worked to get us all to this point.” She noted that the bigger project would take three to five years, but that a lot of the planned renovations are weather dependent, so it was hard to know exactly how long it would take.
“This is really going to be a testament to this neighborhood; it’s going to have some wonderful features,” Pollak said. “It’s going to be an inspiration and, I think, a whole lot of fun to the kids of this community.”
Consalvo thanked Pollak for making sure the park was a priority, as well as Mayor Thomas Menino for understanding how important neighborhoods are to the city of Boston. He also thanked Mattapan residents for making sure the officials followed through with the renovations.
“To the people of this community who have already been named, to each of you standing here, to those who couldn’t be here, thank you,” Consalvo said. “This is your day, you are the folks who made this brand new park at Almont Park happen.”
The reworked park will feature a new playground equipped with rubber safety surfacing, a synthetic turf football field, tennis and basketball courts, outdoor exercise equipment, new lighting, and a parking lot. The park currently serves as the home base for the Mattapan Patriots Pop Warner football team, whose members are anxious to play on the new field.
Steve Mumford, the Patriots’ assistant equipment manager, said the team was excited about the renovations: “The renovations are great. We’re really happy about the project, and hopefully it improves our season.”
Earl Faulk, a member of the Mattapan Street Neighborhood Association, said the main priority was making sure the project is completed and doesn’t get taken over by drug dealers and “unwanteds. We want to make sure we keep the park intact,” he said. “We’re so happy to finally see it taking off. The whole thing we want to do now is make sure it gets finished.”
Faulk added that it was the older residents’ turn to help the new generation. “Someone helped us during our growing up years,” he said, “so now we feel obligated to reach down and help them.”
Bobby Jenkins, who has been a Mattapan resident for 44 years, said Almont Park has always been a safe place. “The park was widely used, but in recent years it was in decline,” he said. “Now you come down here on any given day, and it’s back to the family setting.”
The first part of the Almont Park renovations, also known as the “playground phase,” is scheduled to be completed in by next spring.