History of Fort Hill, Part 2 (2008). Mural by: Loray McDuffie, Taylor Saintable, Edwin Perez-Clancy, Christine O'Connell, Julia Andreasson, Jorge Benitez, Divah Payne, Lucy Saintcyr, Laua Dedonato, Gregg Bernstein.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Urban Amenities: Open Space I

One of the best things about Fort Hill—besides being located on a hill in view of Dorchester Bay—is its parks and open space. Of all the close-in neighborhoods of Boston, Highland Park seems to have the highest ratio of open space.

This open space consists of city parks, a State Park, designated Urban Wilds, community gardens, the vestigal Roxbury Common at the First Church, playgrounds and playing fields, and, of course, the numerous unimproved lots, the dubious legacy of the plague of arson in the 1970s and '80s.

One city park, Clarence "Jeep" Jones Park, located at the bluff on Malcolm X Boulevard, has been improved at least twice since the '70s.

In the sweetheart deal conveying the 88,000 sq ft parcel at 100 Malcolm X Boulevard to the Islamic Society of Boston, ISB was to have maintained the park, and the King Street Playground, for a period of ten years until 2013.

The ISB fell on hard fund-raising times and has been just able to complete phase 1 of its planned mosque and cultural center. It has so far failed to fulfill its obligations for maintenance of Jeep Jones and the King Street Playground.

The Boston Parks and Recreation 2008 Annual Report [1.3MB pdf] contains a very brief notice of a $885K state grant for capital reconstruction of Jeep Jones and the Ripley Playground.

For its second improvement, crews have been busy at Jeep Jones during the winter. It seems the park will open soon with new fences, planting, and hardscape. The basketball courts are gone, but the new design invitingly opens onto John Eliot Square.

However, the King Street playground and the corridor of ISB-owned land at Roxbury Street remain a wasteland.

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