Design a Better Franklin Park

Scott

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Olmsted's plan for a passive park is not "greenspace generica"
 

BronsonShore

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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.
This reads like someone who has a lot of theories about greenspace which may or may not have merit, but who (a) doesn't actually live near Franklin Park and experience its failure on a regular basis, and (b) doesn't live near any other comparable greenspaces that have instead made themselves into a success.

Here are a few pictures to consider. Fist, a few snapshots of Olmsted's original, unrealized plans for the park. Then, some pictures of what it could look like today had Boston not completely given it over to two limited-use spaces that require admission - pictures of a park that shares so much DNA with Franklin Park, but one that's lived up to Olmsted's promise and probably even exceeded it. If this is "greenspace generica" to you, then I don't know what to say.




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F-Line to Dudley

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This reads like someone who has a lot of theories about greenspace which may or may not have merit, but who (a) doesn't actually live near Franklin Park and experience its failure on a regular basis, and (b) doesn't live near any other comparable greenspaces that have instead made themselves into a success.

Here are a few pictures to consider. Fist, a few snapshots of Olmsted's original, unrealized plans for the park. Then, some pictures of what it could look like today had Boston not completely given it over to two limited-use spaces that require admission - pictures of a park that shares so much DNA with Franklin Park, but one that's lived up to Olmsted's promise and probably even exceeded it. If this is "greenspace generica" to you, then I don't know what to say.
Um, wow. Try re-reading the post, please. Because in no way/shape/form was it bagging on the existing legacy City of Boston parks system in the slightest as an example of "greenspace generica". Moreover, it was arguing the exact opposite. That the parks that achieve superlative utilization (which includes the Devine Course numbers shared, as well as Franklin Park writ-large) do so because they abhor the reductionist argument towards multipurposing all spaces by default. I was specifically counterpointing the argument that spaces being designated for specialty functions are poor land usage in need of change, and cautioning against the wormhole that dives into because for every plea to take down Devine to multipurpose you've got to square that with facts like everyone's favorite sacred cow the Arboretum being acre-for-acre more expensive to maintain. It's not a game of favorites; if high-utilization specialty is a worse outcome than diffuse-utilization fungibility, all spaces are up for reevaluation. And, probably like the majority, I most definitely don't think the Arboretum is overrated and do think it's worth every penny in maint for the raw utilization it brings. I think well-excuted specialties are what bring in people far and wide. I think the extant examples--City of Boston Parks superlatives vs. MDC grasslands mediocrity, and the nü-greenspace hits & misses--show that in spades. I don't think the argument for multipurpose here but not there holds up all that well unless there's a specific underutilization problem to troubleshoot (Devine: not an underutilization problem by any empirical measure). It's slipperly slope into the objectionable world of "greenspace generica" to start playing favorites there, because the reductionism never ends when its starts grinding away.


Every single thing you posted above is absolutely 100% correct. But you're refuting the wrong post with it.
 

Blackbird

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Hmm...34,000 rounds per year. Rounds can be 1-4 people. Let's say that the average round has 3 people, that means 102,000 play at the course each year. 80% or 81,600 being Boston residents. However, it's very unlikely that those who play golf here only do so once a year; those 102,000 are absolutely not all unique individuals. I know my uncle who golfs will go once a week or once every other week when the weather is nice. Let's say that the average patron of William J Devine gets out 3 times a year. That would make it about 27,200 unique Bostonians on the course every year. Now what really interests me is: what percent of those 27,200 are Roxbury, Dorchester, or Mattapan residents who live near the course vs West Roxbury residents who drive to it? That data probably just doesn't exists, so I guess there's no use speculating. Still more than 50% of Boston's largest park is dedicated to the 4% of city residents that golf.

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.
Well the Fleming Course, the Olympic Club, and the SF Golf Course are on the periphery of the city and don't seem to encroach on any park space. The Lincoln Park Golf Course and the Presidio Golf Course are on the periphery of the city, but do seem to encroach on their respective parks. It seems to me that the Presidio Park is still heavily utilized outside of the course. The Golden Gate Course is perhaps the most similar to the William J Devine in that it sits in the city's largest and most central park. However, the Golden Gate Course is only a 9 hole course and Golden Gate Park is much larger than Franklin Park.

I'd be fine compromising and reducing the Devine Course back down to 9 holes and opening up half its land to public use. However, I'd like to see the side that's adjacent to Blue Hill Ave open up, which would mean relocating the clubhouse.

I won't bother with the NYC comparison. The Devine Course is about 5 miles from Boston City Hall. Which NYC golf course is 5 miles from City Hall?

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.
Franklin Park certainly doesn't need to become an arboretum in order to be a nice, open, gathering space. In fact, since the Arboretum only allows picnicking one day a year, that's already a niche that an improved, opened Franklin Park could fill.

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....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.

Um, wow. Try re-reading the post, please. Because in no way/shape/form was it bagging on the existing legacy City of Boston parks system in the slightest as an example of "greenspace generica". Moreover, it was arguing the exact opposite. That the parks that achieve superlative utilization (which includes the Devine Course numbers shared, as well as Franklin Park writ-large) do so because they abhor the reductionist argument towards multipurposing all spaces by default. I was specifically counterpointing the argument that spaces being designated for specialty functions are poor land usage in need of change, and cautioning against the wormhole that dives into because for every plea to take down Devine to multipurpose you've got to square that with facts like everyone's favorite sacred cow the Arboretum being acre-for-acre more expensive to maintain. It's not a game of favorites; if high-utilization specialty is a worse outcome than diffuse-utilization fungibility, all spaces are up for reevaluation. And, probably like the majority, I most definitely don't think the Arboretum is overrated and do think it's worth every penny in maint for the raw utilization it brings. I think well-excuted specialties are what bring in people far and wide. I think the extant examples--City of Boston Parks superlatives vs. MDC grasslands mediocrity, and the nü-greenspace hits & misses--show that in spades. I don't think the argument for multipurpose here but not there holds up all that well unless there's a specific underutilization problem to troubleshoot (Devine: not an underutilization problem by any empirical measure). It's slipperly slope into the objectionable world of "greenspace generica" to start playing favorites there, because the reductionism never ends when its starts grinding away.
Wow, I don't think I've ever seen someone write so many words and still make so little sense.

I know you prefer municipal golf courses to parks, but I still don't know why. Please try to answer again; I feel like your responses would be so much more insightful if they were just a bit clearer and more concise.

Olmsted's plan for a passive park is not "greenspace generica"
It sounds like I’d agree with you, but I’ve never heard the phrase “passive park” before. Granted, I’m not very informed on Olmsted and his ideology. Got any links I could use to read up on it all?
 
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Scott

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From wikidot: A Passive Park is a park that is principally designed for use in an unstructured or informal way. A Passive park is typcially less developed than an active park, but may contain features such as walking tracks, gardens, seating, barbecues, picnic areas, etc
 

Scott

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Olmsted's group also did Dot Park. I would suggest people visit his house in Brookline.
 

ErnieAdams

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I won't bother with the NYC comparison. The Devine Course is about 5 miles from Boston City Hall. Which NYC golf course is 5 miles from City Hall?
I am presuming that you phrased it this way so as to exclude Liberty National GC (3.5 miles), Skyway GC (4.3 miles) and Bayonne GC (oops, 5.5 miles), which are all across the river in New Jersey.

As for me, my hope is that everyone so exercised in this thread can find a window in the upcoming nice weather to get outside and enjoy a nice park and/or golf course.
 

Blackbird

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I am presuming that you phrased it this way so as to exclude Liberty National GC (3.5 miles), Skyway GC (4.3 miles) and Bayonne GC (oops, 5.5 miles), which are all across the river in New Jersey.
None of those are in NYC. They’re barely in Jersey City. Certainly not nestled in the heart of the city’s largest park.

As for me, my hope is that everyone so exercised in this thread can find a window in the upcoming nice weather to get outside and enjoy a nice park and/or golf course.
I guess that is the crux of this thread: how exactly does one enjoy a golf course without golfing? Maybe if the Devine were to open up to picnickers and the like one weekend every month?

From wikidot: A Passive Park is a park that is principally designed for use in an unstructured or informal way. A Passive park is typcially less developed than an active park, but may contain features such as walking tracks, gardens, seating, barbecues, picnic areas, etc
I feel like the relationship between the Arboretum and Franklin Park should be similar to that between the Public Garden and the Common: one being well-manicured and pretty, but with restrictions on certain activities. The other being no-holds barred place for sunbathing, frisbee, barbecues, protests, etc.
 
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Scott

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^It should be noted that I consider removing the golf course to be a first world problem. When I was a teenager in the 1980s almost every greenspace in the city including the Common, Public Garden, and Franklin Park was a place where a person could get jumped in broad daylight. They were in very tough shape from decades of neglect. The fact that we can compare our parks favorably to successful ones and realistically discuss changes shows how far we have come and how far we have to go.
 

HenryAlan

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Basically it’s as simple as very few people play golf, and it takes up an inordinate amount of space. Case closed. Paragraphs of barely-decipherable excreta do not change that basic reality.
This is true. But it's also true that very few people utilize Franklin Park at all, in any capacity. The non-golf, non-zoo sections could be so much more than they are now. Maybe we need to focus on that before re-directing use of the golf section. I definitely do not see golf as the best use for the space, but it seems like a project for later, after the core park becomes a more crucial element of Boston's recreational facilities.
 

Blackbird

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This is true. But it's also true that very few people utilize Franklin Park at all, in any capacity. The non-golf, non-zoo sections could be so much more than they are now. Maybe we need to focus on that before re-directing use of the golf section. I definitely do not see golf as the best use for the space, but it seems like a project for later, after the core park becomes a more crucial element of Boston's recreational facilities.
I agree with the sentiment, but I have one issue: the part of the park that is currently non-golf, non-zoo (basically the area around White Stadium) is very JP/Roxbury facing. It’s a haul to get from the southeast side of Franklin Park up to that area especially since Circuit Drive and Morton Street are about as pedestrian-unfriendly as two streets can be.

I think that opening up access to the park from the communities that surround it would go a long way towards improving the park in a general sense.
 

HenryAlan

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Agreed. It should be much more easily accessed from Forest Hills station. As it is now, Green Street is the best 'T access, but people who aren't familiar with the neighborhood might find that approach daunting.
 

Scott

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There are many challenges to improving the park however I disagree with the way some portray it. I do agree that T access is a major issue and always has been; 200,000 people in the heart of the city are greatly underserved and the park in comparison to the one in Brooklyn, reflects that. Also the most heavily populated adjacent neighborhood is just north but is walled off by the zoo. And unfortunately the golf course and the zoo require substantial parking lots largely because of a lack of appropriate transit though I doubt the golfers would take it even if it was available.
 

Blackbird

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Yeah, my point was less about transit connectivity (though that’s definitely a problem) and more about how it’s a hassle to walk or bike from Franklin Field South and Codman Square to White Stadium. However both are a stone’s throw from the golf course. Mattapan and Dorchester residents shouldn’t have to trek across the city in order to enjoy Franklin Park.

Heck I guess it’s kind of ironic that the Franklin Field neighborhood of Dorchester is right up against the pay-to-play portions of Franklin Park.

According to the wiki page for Harambee Park (so take this with a grain of salt):

“Originally known as Franklin Field, it was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in order to give Bostonians a place to play sports, as well as prevent them from doing it at nearby Franklin Park.”
 
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Scott

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I was talking about the Grove Hall end being walled off. Also the main entrance to the park is uninviting and complicated to navigate. You might not have been talking about transit but others mentioned the level of service the park in NYC has and maybe that's another reason why the park gets less vistors than it could. Good rail service is obviously only for newcomers and college students
 

BronsonShore

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Hell, where would you even picnic in Franklin Park? Schoolmaster Hill is the only remotely pleasant spot for picnicking, and (a) it's not anywhere close to any entrances, and (b) you have to cross a very pedestrian unfriendly just street to get to it. At the VERY least, an urban park should provide the community with a pleasant place to picnic. Franklin Park, the supposed jewel in the Emerald Necklace, utterly fails at this base-level requirement.
 

George_Apley

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Forgive the reorganization and thread rename. Seems the thread is trending in the direction of general reworking of Franklin Park anyway. Carry on as you were.

Definitely agree that the park is underutilized the way it's currently designed. I'm enjoying the back-and-forth about the merits of the golf course.
 

Scott

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Not to sound overly harsh, but considering the surroundings, taking out the golf course would only serve in the immediate term to allow the locals more room to drink, piss, shit, fuck, fight, get high and dump bodies while further limiting the supply of inexpensive public golf courses frequented by members of the 'hammered' middle class.
Oh the memories...
 

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