Overhaul of Ryan playground, wading pool moves ahead

Department of Conservation and Recreation officials are working with community members to make improvements to the Ryan playground and wading pool off River Street. Image via DCR

Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) officials met last Thursday with state Rep. Brandy Fluker Oakley and local residents as the agency restarts an overhaul of River Street’s Ryan playground and wading pool. Officials had received blowback from community members in October over an initial plan to convert the wading pool into a spray deck.

The agency, which was ready to start construction within days but hadn’t asked for community input, pulled back on the plan and called off the contractors after hearing from angry residents. The plan was initially pitched as part of a statewide effort to convert pools to spray decks, which don’t require as many staffers and maintenance as pools do.

But the later meeting went smoother: On Thursday, agency officials laid out preliminary plans to keep and enlarge the wading pool.

The agency is still looking at improvements to the overall area. Existing issues include a challenging parking lot layout, with a limited number of parking spaces and an almost-hidden access to the Neponset River Greenway Trail.

DCR has made recent improvements to the area, such as the addition of four pickleball courtlines to two tennis courts and new shooting squares to the basketball hoop sections.

The agency’s presentation also raised the possibility of adding fitness equipment, as well as repairing benches and installing new ones, adding a new water bottle filler, removing the old chain link fencing, repairing walkways, and adding wood fiber to the playground.

Fluker Oakley said she is optimistic about the expected improvements and wants to ensure there is plenty of community feedback.

Last week’s session was aimed at gathering initial input from stakeholders and opening it up to the broader public later this year to help the agency in its development of a request for proposals for the design of the project.

A public listening session is expected this spring.

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