In the last month we attended two different playground planning community meetings. Some members headed to Dorchester to sit in on the Harambee Park community meeting #3. Parks and Rec is planning to do a complete overhaul of the park, including basketball courts, fields, and the playground. The meeting focused on rebranding the park with new entrances and updated features, however specific details of the playground’s layout and equipment remained hazy. Fortunately, we connected with the designers and Cathy Baker-Eclipse of Parks and Rec, and hope to remain in the loop as the project moves forward.
A few other members traveled out to the Downer Avenue Playground meeting. This meeting also focused on the park as a whole mainly due to concerns about safety. Also in attendance was the Joneshill Group, an active community group dedicated to promoting positive changes in the park. Many community members expressed concerns about the lack of police presence, drug use in the park, loitering teenagers, and noise. The playground that currently stands is designed for very young children which doesn’t fit the demographic that is primarily using the park. There was a push for lights, adult fitness, more seating, public art, and doggy bag holders to create a more productive community space. As this was the first meeting, exact details of the design were not discussed.
Attending these community meetings allows us to more thoroughly understand the needs of the communities in which we work. While our primary focus is on inclusive play, we understand that this must fit into the larger community. These interactions with designers, community members, and the city is one of the most concrete ways we are able to make an impact in Boston.