‘Play Shed’ at Town Field aims to help residents embrace the last days of winter

Eric Ly of Coco Leaf helped to keep the fun rolling with bubble teas and tasty treats from his Fields Corner dessert shop.

Many Bostonians have always had a difficult relationship with the winter months, if not a disdain. But city officials want to change that and persuade residents to embrace cold, and they began their mission with a display at Town Field last week.

Amy Mahler, a Dorchester resident who works for the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, in partnership with All Dorchester Sports Leadership (ADSL) and Fields Corner Crossroads Collaborative, opened the city’s first-ever Play Shed, which contains includes toys, winter gear, and equipment for both winter and spring play that residents can borrow these items for free.

Amy Mahler, of the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, and ADSL Director Candice Gartley get ready to unveil the new Play Shed pilot program on Town Field last Thursday (March 9).

The Shed, a pilot program, will be open every day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m at the Fields Corner park through the end of the month. The city will be monitoring how things go, and if it is successful, it could be extended and expanded to other parks.

The weather-proof building operates like a lending library, except with sports balls, snowshoes, sleds, bubble wands, Frisbees and a variety of folding seats and chairs. Whatever is borrowed is expected to be returned after use.

The Play Shed, which is made of recycled bottles, can be accessed via a QR Code on the side of the building, or by calling 3-1-1 and asking for the Play Shed code, which can be used to open a lock on the door.

Apparently sleds work on sand, too, and Seraphina Lambert was having the time of her life with a sled borrowed from the new Play Shed on Town Field.

Ivy Quinn Marc enjoys bubble tea and treats from Coco Leaf after playing with some of the equipment in the new Play Shed.

“The concept for the Play Shed came out of imagining how we could bring residents together in one of the coldest, darkest parts of the year, and we hope it might bring additional joy to this additional space in winter,” said Mahler. “It’s not as active and as exciting here as it is in the summer, and we wanted to introduce something people can enjoy. I think there’s hope this will expand the model of sharing things and enjoyment for community members, especially in places that don’t get as much use in the winter.”

When there’s no snow, leave it to youngsters like Sebastian Bash to still figure out how to use snowshoes.

“I think this is a great start,” said ADSL Director Candice Gartley said, noting that she has advocated for a seasonal ice rink at Town Field for years. “In the winter, this space is a wasteland. Nobody is here. We want to see if there is a way to make this a multi-purpose space for all seasons. There are nine months of nothing on the baseball fields so maybe it can be something else when not in use.”

The project is made possible by a partnership that includes REI, ADSL, Fields Corner Crossroads, Fields Corner Main Streets, CultureHouse, OpBox, and VietAID. 

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