What's the Deal with Splaine Park?

Design team is looking for opinions on the new May Street entrance and the tall wall by the CVS store.

The design team for a rejuvenated is looking for input from the residents of the Federal Street Neighborhood Association and other groups on how the main entrance to the park and a tall wall near the store should look.

The second of three public meetings on the design of the long-neglected park at the west end of the McIntire Historic District off Highland Avenue will be held at 6:30 p.m. tonight at the City Hall Annex, 120 Washington St., third floor.

The city received a grant of $420,946 from the Commonwealth’s Division of Conservation Services to renovate the almost two-acre park, near the corner of Boston and Essex Streets. The proposed improvements include better park entrances, rehabilitation of the baseball field, replacement of play equipment and installation of community garden plots.

At the meeting, Naomi Cottrell with Michelle Crowley Landscape Architecture will present new designs and options for designs for the park, which she said is challenging because of the park's location, sandwiched among other privately owned properties. She said the design work is about half done.

Specifically the design teams wants to present how it proposes to improve the entrance off May Street to make it “more inviting and open,” Cottrell said.

The entrance has been largely hidden. “Most people don't know the entry exists,” she said. There is not much street frontage.

For the wall by the CVS store, the design team has come up with some options and will ask for input from the neighbors and other residents.

At the first hearing, residents were “very excited that the park is getting some attention,” Cottrell said.

They asked that the design team add more security and lighting for the park. In general, they asked the design team “make the park feel less urban and more like a park,”she said.

The construction, which is expected to begin this summer, is the result of a neighborhood effort to clean up and improve the rundown park.

Stan Szwartz, a neighbor who initiated the community effort, described the park as having “a great history and a lot of potential to become another beautiful green space in the middle of our city.”

The neighbors and particularly the Federal Street Neighborhood Association have worked to clear some of the weeds and brush that have grown up in the park. They have also raised money and lobbied the city and state for more funding.

Other groups, including the Salem Community Gardens and the Liberty Elm Project, have taken an interest in the park's renovations. Nearby has also been involved.

After this meeting, the design team will finalize plans for the park and present those plans at a final public meeting on May 23.  

Do you have any thoughts or concerns about Splaine Park? Let us know in the comments.




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