Several dozen South Boston residents gathered Saturday morning to sketch ideas for how the back-to-back City-owned parcels at 174 West 2nd Street and 175 West 1st Street might be redesigned as public park, community gardens, parking lot, or some combination of the three. This is the latest step in a longer conversation between the Department of Neighborhood Development and area residents about what the future of these currently vacant properties should be. Several different schemes emerged, exploring ideas like a large neighborhood lawn to meandering paths to grills and gardens (farm to table doesn’t get more direct!) to overlooks that take advantage of the sloping site and the public courtyard next door. Alternately, if the lots were maxed out for parking, the neighborhood would only gain 34 parking spots — a tiny drop in the bucket compared to the several thousand housing units soon to be finished nearby. All those incoming new residents mean that public parks and gardens will be all the more valuable, too. Next steps include the residents who participated today discussing these ideas with their neighbors; DND is looking to the community to guide how these parcels get improved.
While there’s naturally some disagreement over details of what to do, and no doubt there will be more passionate positions expressed as redesign gets closer and closer to reality, that’s all normal. It’s fantastic that so many residents are willing to share their time and ideas. It’s fantastic that the City is listening so closely to residents’ hopes, concerns, and suggestions for the parcels. And it’s fantastic that so many members of Boston’s design community were willing to share their time and expertise with residents today. A special thank you to the architects, landscape architects, and urban designers from Utile, Ground, Gamble Associates, Warner Larson, and designLAB. We look forward to the conversation continuing!