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The Friends have been working diligently on one focused project over the past few years - the complete restoration of the two centerpieces of our squares. In each of the two squares stands at the center a dolphin fountain with shell-like bowl. As you can see, this major project has been completed! The Friends Group worked closely with the Boston Parks Department to move forward with a long awaited project that has returned the fountains to their historical elegance with a welcomed eco-improvement. The new fountains recycle water - water which was previously draining into city drains - and will maintain a great balance of beauty and hygeine in the squares.
Both fountain pedestals and bowls were removed and taken offsite to undergo this restoration process. Construction has been completed on the sites of the fountains, including excavation projects to construct underground pumping stations. The recirculation of this water will allow for the saving of thousands of gallons of water each year.
In 2003, the Friends of Blackstone/Franklin Squares worked with a landscape architect to develop a Master Plan for the rehabilitation of both Blackstone and Franklin Squares. Although the plan was a bit ambitious for that time, through a close relationship with the Boston Parks Department, the Friends are committed to implementing this plan over time as funds become available. The highlights of the 2003 Master Plan are below.
The walks within the parks were previously in great need of repair. Utility trenching and patching repairs were evident throughout the squares. In the spring of 2013, the Boston Parks Department and the Friends Group repaved the walkways in both squares, leaving a clean and smooth finish in the parks. The brick sidewalks on both sides of Washington Street were replaced in 2009. All of the other perimeter sidewalks are brick except on East Brookline.
The perimeter fence and entry elements show wear and minor damage and are in need of repair. The other highly visible element in need of attention is the landscape. While the lawn itself requires attention, the Friends Group initiated a tree health and maintenance plan in early spring 2013; through funding from the Friends and a city grant, the trees were trimmed in both parks, and were thinned in Franklin Square to address health concerns of the aging flora. This included a thorough review and pruning to improve overall health and to safeguard damage from high winds and snow and ice loads.
The site furniture is also in need of enhancement; the benches and trash receptacles visually disappear in the squares, but at the same time should be visually compatible with the light fixture and perimeter fencing and accomodate a historically accurate appeal. The Friends and the Parks Department are working diligently to implement updated waste containers by fall 2013; concrete slabs have already been poured and these receptacles are to be fabricated by end of summer.
Through numerous committee meetings the following master plan recommendations have been developed for the renovation and enhancement of Blackstone and Franklin Squares. The eight primary entries to the squares should be improved with the reintroduction of a visually heavier columns and intermediate support posts. These elements should be reminiscent of the original fencing, yet blend with the current fencing pattern and finials, as the replacement of the entire fence to the original would be cost prohibitive. The mid-block fence panels which will remain in place should be painted and repaired if necessary. These fence panels could be removed and reset with intermediate posts as part of a later phase. The addition of the intermediate will enable the fencing to take on the character of the original fencing. A twelve-inch concrete maintenance strip should also be installed at the base of the new fencing to ease day to day maintenance. A six inch beveled granite curb has been added to provide a cleaner, more defined walk edge. Care should be taken as grades are modified to not negatively impact the existing trees or drainage patterns. The grading should be reviewed during design development with a current site survey. The walks should also be repaved in asphalt with new metal benches and litter receptacles.
The existing granite fountain wall shall remain while the concrete fountain floor is replaced. The existing fountain has been removed and will be reset on a new foundation within the basin. Fountain lighting may be addressed as a future project one restoration has been complete. The fountains will ultimately become pieces of sculpture within each square.
The Friends of Blackstone/Franklin Squares understand the importance of these public spaces within their neighborhood and are committed to their renovation and upkeep in a manner consistent with the historical use and nature of the squares - while keeping in mind the evolving needs of the residents and visitors to our beautiful parks.
The Friends of Blackstone/Franklin Squares needs your help! From fountains to trash barrels and benches to fences, taking care of the squares takes money. Please make your tax-deductable dontation now.
In the “Designate my Donation” section, please be sure to type “B/FSNA” or "The Friends" to properly allocate your donation.