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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 is finally underway! The Friends Group has been working closely with the Boston Parks Department to move forward with a long awaited project that will return the fountains to their historical elegance with a welcomed eco-improvement. The new fountains will recycle water - water which was previously draining into city drains - and will maintain a great balance of beauty and hygeine in the squares.
Currently, both fountain pedestals and bowls have been removed and taken offsite to undergo this restoration process. You will see construction begin 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 slowly implementing this plan as funds become available. The highlights of the 2003 Master Plan are below.
The walks within the parks are in need of repair. Previous utility trenching and patching repairs are evident throughout the squares. The brick sidewalks on both sides of Washington Street have been recently replaced. All of the other perimeter sidewalks are brick except on East Brookline. The walk is a bituminous surface. The perimeter fence and entry elements have also been damaged and are in need of repair. The fountains were not operational but electrical and mechanical equipment should be inspected and replaced if necessary to return the fountains to their former grandeur. The other highly visible element in need of attention is the landscape. The lawn is in poor shape and the trees are in need of maintenance. Tree maintenance should include; implementation of a fertilization program, a health care program to control insect and disease infestations, and a pruning schedule 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.
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 should remain and become a planter edge, while the concrete fountain floor is removed. The existing fountain should be removed and reset on a new foundation within a smaller basin and stonewall. Fountain lighting will also be installed within the 2 new fountain walls. The lighting will provide added nighttime interest as well as season interest when illuminated in the winter. The fountains will become pieces of sculpture within each square. The area between the new fountain wall and the existing wall will become a planter filled the colorful plant material. A decorative metal fence has also been attached to the planter edge. The fence patterning should be compatible with the perimeter fencing.
Additional tree planting has been proposed to replicate the planting installed during the Olmstead Brothers 1913 plans. Additional flowering trees have also been proposed at each of the entries for additional seasonal interest. The reestablishment of the lawn will make an immediate impact on the squares appearance.
The final master plan element is the replacement of the children's play area in the northeast corner of Blackstone Square. The expressed desire from the committee was for a playground within the neighborhood for children ages 0-5. The other playgrounds in the area are designed for older children. The playground has been located in one half of one of the lawn quadrants in Blackstone Square, essentially in the same location as the existing swing set and climber. Even though the squares have been associated with passive uses, a small children's play area could be integrated into the Square, and with appropriate equipment and color selection.
The Friends of Blackstone/Franklin Squares understand the importance of these public spaces within their neighborhood and are committed to their renovation and upkeep.
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.