The public will get a look at the design plans and timeline for Charlesbank Landing on the Esplanade, which will include a year-round pavilion and visitors center, at a public meeting taking place on Thursday, June 22, from 6 to 7 p.m. at the West End Branch Library at 151 Cambridge St., as well as via Zoom.
The Esplanade Association, which is sponsoring the meeting, will oversee funding for the more than $20 million project – one of the largest gifts ever made to the Commonwealth’s park system – and manage the operations of Charlesbank Landing over the next several decades.
The two-acre project site comprises the area in and around the former Lee Pool complex on the Esplanade; it sits between the Longfellow Bridge and Museum of Science and is adjacent to the Teddy Ebersol’s Red Sox Fields, and Alfond Memorial Spray Deck, as well as the future site of Gronk Playground.
Besides the year-round pavilion and an accessible visitors center that will offer general park information and exhibition space, plans for Charlesbank Landing also include year-round public restrooms; a café with indoor and outdoor seating; a roofdeck that would provide views of the Charles River; an outdoor nature play area; and classroom/community meeting space.
The project also includes plans for a programable event lawn that could accommodate small performances and art exhibits, said Jen Mergel, who joined the Esplanade Association as its James & Audrey Foster executive director on June 1, while a green roof garden with three access point would provide a “quite space for passive reflection” and offer elevated views of the Charles River.
Moreover, the project is being developed with climate resiliency in mind, added Mergel, with the building designed to be Net Zero. It will also include a rain garden, which will collect 100 percent of stormwater, she said.
In anticipation of the upcoming meeting, Mergel said, “I’m really excited to meet community members, both in-person and online, because their voices are what matters most in the process. We’re looking for as much input from as many different ages, interests, and perspectives as possible.”
The Esplanade Association hopes to solicit input from meeting-goers in a number of areas, including what the community would like to see outdoors on the site, as well as how the indoor community and educational space should be programmed, added Mergel.
Additionally, the project would include a multi-functional court, she said, so the Esplanade Association will be soliciting feedback on what types of sports and activities the community would like to see there.
Mergel grew up in Dorchester and regularly rode the Red Line to Charles station to swim in Lee Pool as a child. Now, she said she hopes Charlesbank Landing will become a destination that attracts not only visitors from the immediate area but also from around the region.
Meanwhile, the project comes on the heels of a comprehensive public process led by the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation – the Esplanade Association’s partner in managing the Esplanade. DCR retained Maryann Thompson Architects and Michael Van Valkenburg Associates for the process, which engaged more than 25 stakeholder groups in a nine-month analysis that included feedback from nearly a dozen community meetings and hundreds of public comments.
Last year, the House and Senate both unanimously passed legislation filed by Sen. Sal DiDomenico and Rep. Jay Livingstone to allow the DCR-owned project site to be leased to a private partner for 30 years, with a possible 10-year extension. Sen. Will Brownsberger and former City Councilor Kenzie Bok also played instrumental roles in supporting this effort.
Refreshments, on-site childcare, and translation services will be provided at the meeting. R.S.V.P. at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/charlesbank-landing-public-meeting-tickets-648370161607?aff=oddtdtcreator.