Maintenance is focus of city capital plans

Repairs to a 108-year-old building in Uphams Corner. Extensive fixes to the masonry of the Boston Adult Technical Academy in Mattapan. And a new schoolyard at the Mather School, the first public elementary school in America, in the Meetinghouse Hill section of Dorchester.

Those are some of the projects included in the five-year capital plan Mayor Thomas Menino is proposing. The city is expected to spend $131 million in fiscal year 2011 on capital expenditures. Much of the plan, filed as a companion to the city’s $2.5 billion operating budget, focuses on maintenance.

“Our first priority is always taking care of what we have,” said Laurie Pessah, deputy director for capital planning in the mayor’s office.

The Martin playground, off Hilltop St. near the Neponset walking trail, will receive landscaping improvements.

“We move through on a rolling basis to keep things updated and make sure everything’s to code,” Pessah said.

And the improvements for Cronin playground just east of Codman Square, known locally as Wainwright Park, will be in the design phase this coming year.

“It’s a park that has struggled over the years” and been plagued with graffiti, said District 3 Councillor Maureen Feeney. “I’m thrilled to have that in the budget.”

The capital plan calls for $604,000 in design and construction costs for the park. City officials say drainage and play equipment will be updated.

Through the Boston Public School’s “Pathways to Excellence” program, a modernization effort for the city’s elementary and middle schools, the Wilson middle school in Ashmont will receive new lab classrooms, bathroom renovations, a library and a media-lab center. The Thompson School in Mattapan will receive similar improvements through the same program.

The Mather School is slated to receive a new schoolyard, while the Russell School on Columbia Rd. will receive an “outdoor classroom,” costing $330,000 and $75,000, respectively. The Mather School originally started as a one-room schoolhouse in 1639.

Also on the list for capital infusions is the Uphams Corner Municipal Building, first built in 1902. The building, occupied by the Uphams Corner Health Center and other local organizations, was renovated in the 1980s, shortly after the health center moved in.
The city is expected to spend $3.9 million overhauling the building’s roof and masonry, with construction expected to start in fiscal year 2012.

The reconstruction of four key intersections on Dorchester Ave. – Peabody Square, Fields Corner, Glover’s Corner and Andrew Square – will also continue. An additional 11 intersections are slated to receive traffic signal equipment upgrades and a connection to the city’s traffic management center. The project is being funded by federal stimulus allocations.

The Great Hall in Codman Square is also expected to receive a replacement for its boiler.

The Erie Ellington playground on Glenway St. will also be in the design phase in fiscal 2011, as will Hunt Almont Park in Mattapan. Playground and landscape improvements are expected to be completed at the Ripley playground near Harvard St. at the end of fiscal year 2010 this summer.