Design a Better Franklin Park

kmp1284

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Oh, yikes. What percent of Bostonians do you think golfs?
No idea. I'm not sure what the basis for your grievance is but the golf course probably attracts far more people to Franklin Park than it repels and as recreational amenities, municipal golf courses exist in virtually every major American city.

Could you imagine a bowling alley taking up that much space and taxpayer money?
As you’ve probably figured out by now I don’t have a problem with the presence of the golf course or the comparatively paltry sum that it costs the city to operate. I’m actually glad that Boston provides such a diverse array of recreational opportunities for city residents.
 

BronsonShore

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No idea. I'm not sure what the basis for your grievance is but the golf course probably attracts far more people to Franklin Park than it repels and as recreational amenities, municipal golf courses exist in virtually every major American city.



As you’ve probably figured out by now I don’t have a problem with the presence of the golf course or the comparatively paltry sum that it costs the city to operate. I’m actually glad that Boston provides such a diverse array of recreational opportunities for city residents.
What's your basis for the bolded? Again, look at Prospect Park, which is as close to a spiritual twin to Franklin Park as two urban green spaces ever could be. Here's what it looks like every weekend day from May through October. Instead of getting the scene below, we've given over Franklin Park to a sport where it's literally illegal to get this close to other people:

 

Bananarama

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What's your basis for the bolded? Again, look at Prospect Park, which is as close to a spiritual twin to Franklin Park as two urban green spaces ever could be. Here's what it looks like every weekend day from May through October. Instead of getting the scene below, we've given over Franklin Park to a sport where it's literally illegal to get this close to other people:

The residential density around Prospect is massive compared to the area around Franklin. There are also multiple subway stops around its perimeter.

I'm just not sure if there's enough demand, or if it's active enough to warrant a comparable park. Not to say I wouldn't also like to see the golf course removed, just that there isn't enough reason for it now.
 

kmp1284

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What's your basis for the bolded? Again, look at Prospect Park, which is as close to a spiritual twin to Franklin Park as two urban green spaces ever could be. Here's what it looks like every weekend day from May through October. Instead of getting the scene below, we've given over Franklin Park to a sport where it's literally illegal to get this close to other people:
What Bananarama said for the most part. Brooklyn has a population of 2.5 million with the neighborhoods abutting or within walking distance of the park probably accounting for close to a million compared to about 125k between all of Dorchester and JP.
 

JumboBuc

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1) Prospect Park's location and surrounding density bring it a vibrancy that Franklin Park will never be able to match
2) Franklin Park under-performs its potential

Both of these statements can be true; they are not at odds with each other.

That being said, Franklin Park also has the Arboretum next door. Prospect Park gets all the walkers/strollers that, if they were in Boston, would go to the Arboretum and not Franklin Park.
 

Arlington

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The residential density around Prospect is massive compared to the area around Franklin. There are also multiple subway stops around its perimeter.
This. If you want the park to be used by more people, you need to upzone the neighborhoods between the Fairmont Line and the park on the east and the Orange line and the Park on the West.
 

BronsonShore

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The question isn't "will Franklin Park ever be used as much as Prospect Park." The answer to that will always be no based on population alone. The question we need to ask is whether Franklin Park serves its community as well as Prospect Park does, and the answer to that is undoubtedly no.

Prospect Park is filled every day with people picnicking, running, biking, playing organized youth sports, playing pick-up sports, roller skating (ice-skating in the winter), flying kites, hiking through woodlands, paddle boating, fishing, horseback riding, splashing in fountains, visiting a zoo, riding on a carousel, going to world-class concerts, and shopping at farmer's markets and food festivals. Franklin Park is filled with . . . golfers and a handful of families at the zoo. It's an absolutely disgraceful use of the largest greenspace in the city.
 
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HenryAlan

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Franklin Park is filled with . . . golfers and a handful of families at the zoo. It's an absolutely disgraceful use of the largest greenspace in the city.
I think this is largely true most days, although the park does perform admirably with programmed events. I think the challenge is getting more active programming. It's really a very nice place, and could be so much more heavily patronized.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Maybe try increasing utilization of the course before trying to erase it from existence, perhaps, if we're up for practical troubleshooting before land-use warfare? Fresh Pond Course in Cambridge has no trouble getting all-day utilization. When I lived in North Cambridge I'd hit the Reservoir for a sunrise walk as a soother before donning battle armor to commute to work, and there were always early-birds getting in a round at that hour...good weather or bad.

Face it...golf is fucking expensive to play at any private (including non- hoity-toity income bracket) club, so for 80% of the population that even wants to play it's barely something they can ration more than a few times per year. Muni courses are a fairly rare asset for being affordable to most income groups for casual use, and also being affordable for the mid-manager who needs their 6:00am daily fix of peace and quiet to keep their day sane through the first soul-crushing conference call of the morning. And it takes a large enough city to have Park Dept.'s that can maintain the grounds.

So maybe instead of pushing the idea of muni courses to extinction over land grabs...first bullet out the list of how to make the spaces better-utilized. For casual citizens looking to try it for a day, for lessons to get the inner-city demographics who've been faithfully buying Tiger Woods merch for 25 years without ever actually getting to pick up a club themselves to experience what it's like to play, and for the regular players who need a sanity release valve and have too many college loans to pay off to ever do that on a regular basis. And then from there you can buff out the special event utilization. FFS, if Brockton can make it work splendidly for themselves at muni D.W. Field Course--nevermind Cambridge--there's no reason why City of Boston can't be a model example of muni courses done right.


I'm no golfer...my most exciting--and nearly only--play moment was nailing a hole-in-one in the clown's noise and getting a free ice cream sandwich at the trashy 50's-relic mini golf course in my hometown. It's more boring on TV than watching bowling. The display of privilege grates on me. But every morning when passing the back side of Fresh Pond and seeing the early-birds get their fix I could totally appreciate the one-of-a-kind zen of being out there...you + ball + hole + strategy...in a peaceful green setting. That's an asset to try to maximize out of an urban space. If it doesn't work, or if the City is just too half-assed about ever trying to make it work...fine, start asking the prudent land use questions. But based on much smaller neighbors (yes, Brockton) being able to make it work...I'd rather first see them redouble efforts to stimulate what they've got. It can be done, and done right it's a rare perk for the urban environment.
 

Scott

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Does anyone know how many people use Franklin Park in a year? I think it's important to quantify that before we accept at face value that it is underused. I can't find a number online.
 

meddlepal

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Face it...golf is fucking expensive to play at any private (including non- hoity-toity income bracket) club, so for 80% of the population that even wants to play it's barely something they can ration more than a few times per year.
This is just false and uninformed. I believe both Boston courses are $50 for 18 and a typical round takes about 4 hours. That's $12.50/hr for outdoors entertainment which is not exactly anywhere near unaffordable for most people people in Boston and surroundings.

The big cost in golf is the capital cost for clubs. However most people don't need brand new clubs. What most people do usually need is clubs fit for them and to spend some time practicing.

It's considerably cheaper than a lot of other recreational activities in the area, for example, skiing and snowboarding.
 

Blackbird

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This. If you want the park to be used by more people, you need to upzone the neighborhoods between the Fairmont Line and the park on the east and the Orange line and the Park on the West.
My question isn’t “how do we get more people to live near Franklin Park?” it’s “would the park see more visitors with or without the golf course?”. Does anyone know how many visitors the course gets per year, and what percent of those visitors are Boston residents?

It's considerably cheaper than a lot of other recreational activities in the area, for example, skiing and snowboarding.
I would feel the same way about this if the area were reserved for ski slopes instead of a golf course.

It should just be a regular-old, free-to-use park.

Maybe try increasing utilization of the course before trying to erase it from existence, perhaps, if we're up for practical troubleshooting before land-use warfare? Fresh Pond Course in Cambridge has no trouble getting all-day utilization.
I don’t think the Fresh Pond Course is as large as the William J Devine? Nor is West Cambridge as densely populated as Roxbury/Dorchester/Mattapan? And even with all-day utilization, that can’t amount to as many people as [say] the Arboretum?
 
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meddlepal

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It should just be a regular-old, free-to-use park.
Do you also feel that way about city owned baseball diamonds, basketball courts, tennis courts, and soccer fields? What about skate parks? Seriously, I don't get the hate about golf... it's a great game that pretty much _any_ age group can play which is something that cannot be said for all the other activities. We should be encouraging more people to golf.
 

Blackbird

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Do you also feel that way about city owned baseball diamonds, basketball courts, tennis courts, and soccer fields? What about skate parks? Seriously, I don't get the hate about golf... it's a great game
I don’t mind golf as a game, but unlike all those other things you listed, golf courses take up a lot of greenspace. When the course is out in the country it doesn’t make much difference, but it’s huge when that much land in the city is taken up for a game that only few play.
 

meddlepal

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I don’t mind golf as a game, but unlike all those other things you listed, golf courses take up a lot of greenspace. When the course is out in the country it doesn’t make much difference, but it’s huge when that much land in the city is taken up for a game that only few play.
Yea, but you could say the same about all those other things... only a few people play baseball/softball, or tennis, or skate. Yet you don't argue against them because they're spread out but the land area combined is probably similar.

I don't think as few people play golf as you imagine.
 

Blackbird

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only a few people play baseball/softball, or tennis, or skate.
If the combined land area of all other recreational outlets in the city might be as large as this one, surely there's a problem? When was the last time you saw a 3.5 mile-long tennis court?

Not to mention skateparks and ice rinks usually aren't incorporated into parks. The Lynch Family skatepark is practically underneath I-93.

I don't think as few people play golf as you imagine.
numbers?
 

meddlepal

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10 seconds of Googling, you can do more thorough research if you care:

- https://www.ngf.org/golf-industry-research/
- https://www.statista.com/statistics/191907/participants-in-golf-in-the-us-since-2006/
- https://www.forbes.com/sites/erikma...e-of-the-golf-industry-for-2019/#77e371555208

Traditional participation has stabilized in recent years, with a healthy 24 million on-course golfers, and there are now almost as many who play increasingly popular off-course forms of the game (from Topgolf and Drive Shack to indoor simulators).
Total on-course participation increased to 24.2 million golfers last year. When factoring in off-course participation options, such as Topgolf, total participation climbed to 33.5 million in 2018, up 4% from 32.1 million in 2017.
That's not a small sport.
 

kmp1284

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In 2015 34,000 rounds, 79% city residents.

http://jamaicaplaingazette.com/2015/02/27/franklin-parks-golf-course-still-a-treasure-119-years-in/

To put that in context, Bethpage Black, which people literally camp out in the parking lot to play, averages 45,000 rounds per year.


Obviously your mind is made up so I’m not going to waste any more time on this but you should consider yourself lucky to not live in San Francisco where they have five courses or New York with thirteen.
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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If the combined land area of all other recreational outlets in the city might be as large as this one, surely there's a problem? When was the last time you saw a 3.5 mile-long tennis court?

Not to mention skateparks and ice rinks usually aren't incorporated into parks. The Lynch Family skatepark is practically underneath I-93.



numbers?
So...the goal of a city parks department is to reach for the lowest common-denominator land usage and level everything to fungible generica? Besides being the most depressing fucking idea I've heard in ages, what an absolute utilization-killer that would be. Who's going to travel to Franklin Park from across the city when any old park would do? Unorthodox-geometry spaces like baseball diamonds...pfft! You can't hold a concert in the park on one of those, what with the lack of rectangular angles and that pitcher's mound messing up the grading. And let's not get all precious about picking favorites for me, 'wasteful space' for thee, either. The Arboretum has the most expensive park maintenance budget in the City due to its inefficiency of supporting native species and event restrictions on environmental impacts. We can neither afford to hold that one on a pedestal above greenspace generica, either.

Do you see how nihilist this line of argument is??? Is it supposed to be a good thing if Boston Parks were run like corruption-special MDC years where every strip of postwar River Roads' grass was gooseshit-covered eroded sameness? We already had enough decades of utilization data to prove what a loser that 'diffuse fungibility' line of thinking is regarding greenspace utilization. Ditto the 21st c. nü-greenspace trend, and which of those newer developments ended up centerpieces of civic activity vs. generic strips of de facto People Repellent. Would-be visitors consistently don't make the effort to visit if there isn't a compelling hook for the space. If there's nothing there that they can't get--with less goose shit and thug-squirrel raids on the brought food for their troubles--by visiting a friend in the 'burbs with an actual backyard, they don't go to the trouble to picnic or stay awhile on greenspace generica. Genericness is a bug, not a feature. The correlation with utilization rates is WAY too fucking broad to dodge that, whether you've already got your mind made up about the drill-down raw numbers comparison of visitors to Devine course being cherry-picked meaningful or meaningless, or insist on arbitrary ground rules for this game that these specialized land uses are abomination but don't you dare touch my Arboretum.
 

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