Design Portion of Central Square Project Nears Completion

A working blueprint of the new Central Square Park and sur¬rounding streets.

Based on months of community input the City of Boston is comfortable with the design of the proposed $4 million rehab to Central Square although there still may be a bit of tweaking over the next couple of months.

The fifth in a series of community input meeting regarding the overhaul of the square was hosted by the Boston Transportation Department recently at the East Boston Social Centers. There, City of Boston Engineer Vineet Guipta said the city feels the city and community has reached a consensus on the square’s design back in January.

While previous meetings were brainstorming session of sorts with at least 50 people giving their impressions of what is good and bad about the square as it exists today.

The January meeting focused primarily on traffic and parking patterns in the square and how the city plans to address parking around the square and control traffic flow in and out of the square.

One plan is to make Bennington Street a one way heading out of the square northbound and then becoming a two-way street again at Marion Street. This would force southbound Bennington Street traffic to divert onto London Street via a left turn and then onto Porter Street via a right turn in order to get into the square from the north.

Another proposal by the city is to make some of the parking around the new square reverse angle parking which would cut down the incidents of fender benders around the square and add more spaces in some spots.

Guipta, said the actual parks design would include tree alleys similar to Copley Square, a restored lawn and park space, retaining wall to add levels to the park and tree groves.

“This is going to be East Boston’s square and the final product is what the residents have decided,” said Guipta.

The park will also receive new signage and kiosks informing visitors about the neighborhood, its history and how to get around.

The retaining wall that will encircle the square’s park seemed to be the biggest item of concern. While some feared having a blank wall would invite graffiti and vandalism, something Guipta said was commonplace in his experience with undecorated park walls, others said the problem could be solved with public art.

Public artist Mark Favermann said there could be several options like a historic map of Eastie imprinted in the wall of other works of public art.

In the end Guipta favored some sort of design on the wall saying “if it’s a big, exposed canvas, you’ll get art. But it won’t be the art that you wanted.”

The city said it would try to schedule one more public meeting to discuss further options for the wall before the project is put out to bid in Spring 2012. Guipta said construction of the square could begin as early as fall of 2012.

In August 2008, Menino announced the city would spend nearly $4 million on a new design for Central Square and has already added new angle parking on Sumner Street for local residents.

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