The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) announced plans to build a spray deck on the Charles River Esplanade and sought public input on the project at a meeting at the Shriners Hospital for Children Auditorium on Thursday.
Design team members said the new structure would replace the exiting wading pool located in the northeast area of the park – a structure dating back to 1951 that now has accessibility issues and requires extensive repairs. The new spray fountain is being underwritten in part by the William and Joan Alfond Foundation, which was established by two longtime Beacon Hill residents.
Among the project goals are to create an interactive play experience and to attract users of all abilities and ages. The new spray fountain would also improve efficiency via a manual activation device and allow for an extended season and hours, compared to the existing wading pool. It could include as many as 25 to 30 different water features aimed at a wide age-range, as well as a “misting station” for runners and bicyclists.
As for the project schedule, DCR is planning a “charrette” (an intensive planning session for stakeholders) for later this month to solicit feedback on design ideas from local families. Bidding for the project would then open in January, with a construction start-date planned for April. The wading pool is expected to open by July 1, officials said.
Kevin E. McHugh, senior civil engineer for Coneco Engineers & Scientists, a Bridgewater-based engineering and consulting firm, said construction would have a minimal impact, since work would take place within the existing footprint of the wading pool.
Raul Silva, DCR deputy chief engineer of parks and facilities, said construction staging would ideally be set up near the police barracks on the park’s lower basin in an effort to limit the impact on parking during baseball season.
In response to whether the existing fence surrounding the wading should be removed, John Shields, project chair of Esplanade 2020 – The Esplanade Association’s long-term vision for the park – said some fencing should remain and the barrier should be more substantial than what exists today.
Tani Marinovich, executive director of The Esplanade Association, requested that any fencing include multiple access points, and that DCR consider building a comfort station in the area. She also recommended integrating the Museum of Science into the project, given its close proximity to the park.
“To us, it’s really important that we have something state-of-the-art and interactive,” Marinovich said.
Public comments on the project can be e-mailed to [email protected] with “Esplanade Spraydeck” in the subject line, or mailed to the Department of Conservation and Recreation, Office of Public Outreach, 251 Causeway St., Boston, MA 02114.