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Beyond The Big Dig
About this project

What happens to the ribbon of land being created by the depression of the Central Artery may be the most important development decision to face Boston in a generation.

Ideas for Big Dig space include dog runs, jog path, cafes

By Peter DeMarco, Globe Correspondent, 4/14/2002

    Beyond Big Dig

Creative Community Conversations
On April 14, some 230 people took part in the first of two public forums about the future of the Central Artery land. They were divided into small groups and asked to dream about what the parks could be.

  • See what participants came up with
  • Column by M. David Lee
  • Forum credits
  • Some thought a carousel should go near Chinatown. Park benches with wireless Internet capability? Put them outside the Aquarium. The bald eagle santuctuary? Stick it near Haymarket.

    In an effort to collect ideas about what should be built on the mile-long stretch of land that will open once the Central Artery is torn down, the Boston Foundation and the Boston Society of Architects yesterday asked more than 200 city residents, workers, and those concerned about Boston's future to draw up a wish list.

    Participants gathered in the morning at Boston Harbor Hotel and divided into small groups. Forum leaders gave the order to brainstorm. The ideas piled up faster than rush-hour traffic.

    Among the suggestions were dog runs, expansive flower beds, outdoor cafes, water walls "to muffle street noise," jogging paths (with some debate on whether to allow skateboarders), space for morning tai chi exercises, a playground accessible to the disabled, grass for lawn bowling, and even a romantic spot -- a lover's lane of sorts with a view of the harbor.

    Though some ideas were far-fetched -- one man suggested a wildlife area with moose imported from Maine -- others were inventive. Bonnie Gossels, a Boston property owner, thought the ugly blank walls of structures housing ventilation ducts for the artery should be used as movie screens for outdoor shows.

    "My first instinct was that I wanted grass and trees and all green," said Leslie Dennis, who lives in Charlestown and works at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. "But I've listened to people and I've actually become more open to things."

    Organizers will choose ideas from yesterday's forum and a second workshop, May 11 at Boston English High School, and present them May 30 at a meeting at Faneuil Hall. They hope to present the ideas to a joint state and city committee responsible for choosing a developer for the corridor, parts of which will be ready for development in less than three years.

    A partial list of the ideas will be posted on www.boston.com.

    "Having lived in the city all my life, it's the first time I've seen such an open process," said participant Mary Sullivan of South Boston.

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