DCR lays out plans for the new Pope Park playground

A rendering shows what an improved playground would look like in Pope John Paul II park. Image courtesy DCR

The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) held a public meeting on Monday night in the cafeteria of the Leahy-Holloran Community Center to present plans for the $450,000 reconstruction of the Pope John Paul II Park playground. 

The meeting was a quick one as just a few community members were in attendance. 

Sandra Libby, a DCR planner, reviewed conceptual designs for the new facility, noting that the playground area is being slightly enlarged, and presented options for the public to review and offer feedback. The present site, which has been closed to the public since early September, will be demolished by December, Libby said.

The new playground will feature new play equipment, 42-inch fencing, and play surfacing for 2-5 and 5-12 year olds. Two secure playground entrances (latchable gates) will be added, along with new benches, landscape restoration and beautification, and new fitness equipment along the Neponset Trail deeper into the park. 

“Some of the design considerations are maximizing our play value, accommodating the volume of people that go there and making sure there’s accessibility for all, and maintenance going forward,” Libby said. 

Kids will be able to enjoy toys with musical elements, tot swings, spinning gadgets, and climbing nets, to name a few.

Libby asked that community members vote in a quick breakout session on some of the proposed playground elements including bench options, color scheme, and spring toy options. Each voting element had two options for people to pick from.

Construction is expected to begin next spring and be completed a few months later. During the work, the rest of the park will remain open.
Alternative playground options for families in the area include Toohig Park on Gallivan Boulevard and the Tenean Beach Playground.  

State Rep. Dan Hunt and state Sen. Nick Collins thanked the DCR for their work on the project. “I just want to say thank you for being invested,” said Collins. “Rep. Hunt has done a lot to make sure that this is a priority, and this park brings a ton of joy to people across the city.”

Said Hunt: “Across government there’s not a lot of funding to go around, but DCR is a great agency and there’s a lot of people that do important work. It is, to a large extent, where the general population meets government. We’ve got about 460,000 acres of public land where everyone feels welcome.” 

The public can review the presentation that was made at this meeting on the DCR website. Community input will be collected online at mass.gov/dcr/public-comment through Oct. 15.