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Connecting people to `can't get there from here' parks

In a heat wave, green space sure looks appealing. But what if you can't find it? Allston/Brighton has 40 percent less public green space than the average Boston neighborhood, said Heather Knopsnyder of that neighborhood's community development corporation. Worse, existing parks go underused. ``People just don't know where things are and how to get to them," she said.

The Allston Brighton Green Space Advocates aim to change that, and 20 of its members met at the Artesani Playground July 15 to tackle the issue of access to parks.

Since residential and commercial expansion has eaten up most of the area's open space, organizers focused on creating ``green connections" between existing oases. The concept entails planting trees and grass along roads that run from park to park, installing benches, improving pedestrian crossings, and adding art. ``Trying to take better advantage of what we do have is important," said senior planner Aldo Ghirin of the Boston Parks and Recreation Department . Coalition board member Charlie Vasiliades said he hopes this process, launched in February, would become a model for the rest of the city.

As children splashed in the nearby fountain, meeting attendees brainstormed improvements. A new sign could show Union Square pedestrians that Ringer Park is only steps away. Gene Gobby, 57, of Allston suggested starting a garden at Brighton High School. ``I didn't even know some of these places existed," said Donna Johnson , 58, who moved to Brighton last year.

Even the site of the gathering off Soldiers Field Road proved the need for the project. ``Coming to this park is very hard if you're not driving," said corporation organizer Juan Gonzalez . Allston resident Don Lubin , 62, often crosses the busy parkway on foot. With better visibility and a few changes, Ghirin said, the city could create ``access without adventure."


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