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No. 35 – 111 South Street

June 26, 2011

Between Windsor and Willow streets, on the Somerville-Cambridge border, this 0.36 acre park in the Boynton yards currently serves as a memorial for firefighters Joseph Reilly and Robert Brickley, who lost their lives in the 1974 Arrow Paper fire, which happened very close to this spot. This is one of those small surprising spots in the city, with benches and plantings, as well as the memorial itself which features a bronze firefighter’s hose and axes.

According to the Somerville Open Space and Recreation Plan 2008-2013, this site is to be developed into an Off-Leash Recreational Area. As per the City’s One Year Action Plan 2011-12 park amenities are to include secure areas in which to bring a dog, as well as dog supplies to clean up after a dog and other pet-friendly features.

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Making slow progress

June 26, 2011

Woohoo! I’m 2/3 way there with 41 of 63 parks visited and blogged!

Yet to do includes an assortment of parks (like the Mystic River Reservation, Draw 7 Park, Quincy Street, the Bike Path etc.), most of the school playgrounds (like the Healey (hmmm…why do I always give that school an article…am I the only one to do that?), Cummings, Brown, Kennedy (if I can ever get in to the Tot Lot there which is always locked) and an assortment of gardens. And for some reason a group of parks close to Davis (Tufts, Powderhouse etc.)

I have no idea if/when I will complete my now seemingly daft mission but we’ll mosey on anyways…watch this space 🙂

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No. 34 – Allen Street Community Garden

June 25, 2011

Visited late summer 2010. Empty, minimal shade.

Located at 30 Allen Street, off Somerville Avenue between Union Square and Target. This community garden was completed in 2007 and features garden plots (including the City’s first purpose-built American with Disabilities Act (ADA)accessible plot) seating, and trees. 30 Allen Street was residential until the 1950s, when it became vacant, following which it was used as an illegal dumping ground. In 2003, the city acquired the site and was awarded an EPA Cleanup Grant following an environmental assessment which revealed that both the soil and water were contaminated.

From 2005 to 2007, neighborhood residents, the Somerville Community Corporation, and the Ward 2 Alderman engaged the community in a planning process which resulted in the development of the garden. Allen Street community garden is dedicated to the citizens of Somerville and also specifically to a recently deceased local resident, Mrs. Beverly Lipinski, who was committed to affordable housing and many other revitalization efforts in the Union Square neighborhood.

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No. 28 – Community Growing Center

June 13, 2011

Visited many, many times over the past few years. Occasionally only a handful of people there, sometimes dozens. Often families with kids but not always. Shade abounds!

Approximately 1/4 acre park on Vinal Avenue, between Aldersey and Summer streets. Residential parking, on-street parking on Summer Street and in nearby Union Square. Port-a-potty and potable water on site. Nearest snack options in Union Square.

The Somerville Community Growing Center is without a doubt one of our favorite outdoor spaces in Somerville. The Garden was built by the community on the site of the Southern Junior High School and is maintained and run by a volunteer organization called the Friends of the Community Growing Center. It is an oasis in the city, a space of both unstructured and structured activity, where kids can run about in nature, peer at bugs, wonder at plants, learn to climb a tree, build fairy houses, listen to music, dance, participate in after-school programs, picnic and play, and all within walking distance of Union Square. The Community Garden is not just for children, but provides a space where people of all ages can enjoy nature with its pond, herb and vegetable gardens, honey bees, shaded seating, art installations, performances and much more.

In addition to a busy calendar of events (that is definitely worth book-marking) which includes performances, classes, volunteer days, meditative walks, nature workshops etc. , the garden is open at various times throughout the year and every Saturday (May-October), 9am-noon when anyone can wander in and enjoy the space or help out with the gardening. The garden is open for a casual, drop-in playgroup on Friday mornings, 9am-1pm most weeks (occasionally until 11am only) from May to October. Thanks to volunteers and donations from the community (please look for the donation box when you visit!) the Community Garden really brings a wonderful gift to the people of Somerville.

And I’ll put in a plug here for an event I am co-hosting on July 12 (rain date July 14), 5:30-7:00pm – a Teddy Bear Picnic. Bring a picnic and your teddy bears and join with local families and friends of all ages to enjoy a summer’s evening in a beautiful setting. I’m looking forward to meeting lots of families and especially the beloved teddy bears!

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No. 61 – North Street/Veterans

June 6, 2011

Visited June 1, 2011 at 11:30am. Empty. Partial shade.

The basics
0.22 acre playground just outside Teele Square on North Street between Broadway and Hamilton Road. Older playground structures, metal on woodchip, some rubber surfacing, and hardtop. Residential parking and on-street parking on Broadway. Lots of snack/restroom options on Broadway (Teele Square) and Johnnie Foodmaster nearby.

The fun stuff

4 swings (2 bucket)
4 slides (1 spiral, 2 side-by-side, straight, 1 wide)
Crawl tube
Speaking tube
Games panels
Steps, ladders, swing bars
Benches and separate picnic table area
Hopscotch, four square
Basketball hoops

This is one of the older playgrounds in Somerville, and was dedicated to local Vietnam veterans in 1980. The playground is in the early stages of renovation, with meetings between the city and the neighboring community already underway. There are definitely signs of wear and tear, with cracks in the hardtop and sum damage on the play structures. But on the positive side, the playground features an elevated crawl tube and a functioning speaking tube! An added feature of interest for us was Somerville’s Veterans Memorial Cemetery, which can be seen through the bushes behind the basketball hoops and is only a couple of minutes walk away. Not for everyone I know, but we visited a few days after the Memorial Day Parade and my 4.5 year old is pretty curious about cemeteries, death etc. at the moment.

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No. 13 – Edward L. Leathers Community Park

June 1, 2011

Visited May 31, 2011, morning and lunchtime. Empty apart from a few high school kids walking through. Good shade.

0.71 acre acre park on Walnut Street between Medford and Pearl streets. Off-Leash- Recreational Area. Limited residential parking. Closest snacks on Highland Ave, restrooms at the Public Library.

This park opened in August 2008, is named after former Somerville resident Edward L. Leathers, a WWII veteran, and sits on the former site of the old Kemp Nuts Factory at 100 Walnut Street. The park was renovated following an extensive community outreach program which resulted in the creating of a more ‘passive’ open green space with a modern feel.

Leathers Park includes a large grassy open space, approximately 60 shade trees, hundreds of shrubs and ground cover plantings, a handful of modern playground structures, and several walking paths. There is a raised embankment along the rail corridor that serves as a viewing platform (perfect for train spotters), and on snow days as a little sledding hill for wee ones. There is also space for picnics, and a stage area for community events. This park provides a nice open space, right in the city, and seems well used by a variety of ages.

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No. 21 – Glen Park at Capuano School

May 31, 2011

Visited many many times during the school year. Full of kids at school pickup (1:45pm and 2:30pm) and at various recess times during the morning. Usually very quiet outside school hours. Minimal shade along school building wall, and around some of the older trees.

The basics

2.34 acre park with playground, soccer field, basketball and 0.29 acre community garden located at the Michael E. Capuano Early Education Center on 150 Glen Street between Fountain Avenue and Oliver Street. Seasonal porta-potty located just outside the far corner of the soccer field (near Franklin Street). Residential parking (with some restrictions at the school entrances on Glen and Franklin streets during school hours). Nearest snack sources on Broadway or Cobble Hill, Washington Street. Playground with metal and plastic structures on rubber.

The fun stuff

Eight swings, including one bucket.
TEN! slides (straight, spiral, side-by-side)
Lots of play/educational panels
Row of stepping stools
Lots of steps, ladders and climbing
Fire station pole
Clatter bridge
Plastic ‘cave’
Small rock wall
Spacious asphalt yard with maze, hopscotch and foursquares
Playing field
Basketball court
Benches and picnic tables

The Capuano school playground is very big, with lots of play areas and centers for activity (physical and mental). It can be quite a workout just following a child from the sidelines! Favorites for us include the ‘bear cave’, the maze (but beware, if you are to take it seriously it can take a while and be a little dizzying), and the soccer field. My daughter has loved what she calls the ‘bear cave’ since we first visited the playground before school started last September. In addition to everything on offer in the playground, there is lots of running space. Bring a picnic or water and snacks as visits here can be lengthy, and don’t forget the sunscreen because you will need it!

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No. 14 – Otis

May 22, 2011

Visited May 20, 3:30pm. There were three kids and two teenagers there – the teenagers left when we arrived and hovered on the overpass until we left, when they went back into the playground. It was cloudy when we visited but between the trees and the pedestrian bridge over the McGrath Highway, I would expect a good deal of shade here.

The basics

0.10 acre park with playground on Otis Street at Dana. Nearest restrooms at Dunkin Donuts on Broadway, or at the Central Library on Highland. Metal play structures on wood chip surface, hardtop play areas. One gate, not functioning properly.

The fun stuff

3 swings, 1 bucket
1 slide, twirl
Sprinkler (not working 5/20) and water fountain
Lots of climbing aparatus (steps, ladders, slide bar, monkey bar handles)
Short balance beam bridge and clatter bridge
Foursquare and hopscotch
2 picnic tables with stools, 1 bench
Collection of play benches within play structure

This playground is just over a half mile from our house and this was our first time visiting. This park must struggle for visitors as, although on Otis Street, it really feels like the playground is on the McGrath Highway, and the park is bisected by the huge concrete pedestrian overpass. These two factors alone would prevent me from adding it to the Recommended list but I must admit that I was expecting it to be worse than it was in terms of the state of the play structures and overall cleanliness. The play structures are in good shape,and we didn’t see any trash or broken glass, although there were quite a few cigarette butts strewn around both on the hardtop and inside the play structure. There was certainly some natural curiosity related to the overpass, a real elephant in the room, and we did spend some time running up and down underneath it and listening to the sound of our voices change as our heads got closer to the top. (Tall parents watch out!) It was nice to see so many mature trees and plantings, and my daughter was also interested in the weird dead space at the back by the Auto shop.

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No. 7 – Henry Hansen Park

May 9, 2011

Tiny (0.06 acre) park on Medford Street just outside Magoun Square named after Henry O. (Hank) Hansen (1919-1945). Hansen graduated from Somerville High School in 1938 and enlisted in the Marines at 18 years of age. He was a sergeant when he took part in raising the first flag on Iwo Jima in 1945. He was killed in action one week later. This park was named in his honor in June 2004.

The park features a few benches and a number of commemorative plaques which provide information on Hansen, including his birth certificate and some WW2 photos, some of which are weather damaged.

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No. 18 – ESCS – closed for renovation!

May 2, 2011

Renovations are underway at the East Somerville Community School and the playground is being demolished. I can’t wait to see it’s replacement, like many in this neighborhood I am sure.

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