Greenspace and Splashpad at Mary Jane Lee Park


Splashpad Plan MJLP 2014.09.05_Page_1

The City of Salem secured a $200,000 state grant to place a splashpad in one of its parks. Having worked in the Point neighborhood through the Salem Public Space Project, and now affiliated with Friends of Mary Jane Lee Park, I am excited that the City has chosen Mary Jane Lee Park for the splashpad that has long been desired by residents. A wonderful prospect for the kids!

This is one of the biggest public space investments in the Point neighborhood in many years. Unfortunately, the location of the new amenity comes at a great cost. Although the park is half greenspace and half asphalt, the City plans to locate the impermeable surface of the splashpad in place of the green-space. We, at Friends of Mary Jane Lee Park, propose it be located on the asphalt.

Splashpad Plan MJLP 2014.09.05_Page_2

Although the City has offered to recreate green space next spring, it cannot be as large as the current common green space. The current location reveals a mismanagement of resources: why tear up green space, only to relocate it later? In addition, the City Proposed location of the spalshpad will result in cutting down the mature evergreen tree. The plans stipulate the addition of more trees, but they do not replace a mature tree for its benefits to mitigating air pollution. With the current configuration, the park parcel is not large enough to include all of the planned (and welcome) activities by the City that include: Splashpad, Children Ride Track, Playground, Greenspace, and Parking. Our proposal can include all of these activities and the largest possible surface area of permeable green space. Furthermore, the splashpad will serve as water play three months out of the year – the rest it will be a concrete, impermeable surface.

Friends of Mary Jane Lee Park have gathered over 250 signatures of residents that prefer we relocate the splashpad to keep the green space!

Spring play by the pine tree

Spring play by the evergreen tree

The Point Visioning Plan, developed by a coalition of state, city, and neighborhood groups, stipulates that “greening” the Point is a top priority. Currently, the neighborhood has the least amount of distributed green space. The neighborhood is four times as dense as the rest of Salem, and many residents don’t have outside space, front or back yards; they go to the park to enjoy green space.

Despite meetings and emails, we have not been given any concrete reason as to how and why the proposed location was determined. The City asserts we need fast action as the splashpad needs to be completed by December or we can lose the funding! The first public meeting that showed the location was on July 28th. That was only about six weeks ago. There will be another public meeting next Tuesday. Come support the new splashpad amenity and maintaining green space in the Point!

Park and Recreation Commission Meeting August 19, 2014, at 6:45 p.m. 5 Broad Street (Senior Center)

Mary Jane Lee Park Clean Up Day

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Informal conversations and a lot of clean up at the park

Saturday, August 30th, from nine to noon the community joined Friends of Mary Jane Lee Park and cleaned up the park! We sifted sand, removed graffiti, pulled weeds, raked grass, and of course, picked up trash. In addition to residents, we were joined by Councilpersons William Legault, at large, and Heather Famico, Ward 2.

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Some of the women of Friends of Mary Jane Lee Park, who organized the clean-up.

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After the clean-up, participants line up for pizza, juice, and cookies.

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Heather Famico, Ward 2 Councilwoman, was impressed with the cleaning efforts of her two young helpers!

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Sand sifting: sounds easier than it is!

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Nature needed a little trim too.

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Doreen Thomas, president of Friends of Mary Jane Lee Park, sure knows how to orchestrate!

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Linda Locke, Friends of Mary Jane Lee Park, welcomes Councilman Bill Legault to the effort.

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Helpers, and posters, brooms galore.

There was plenty of conversation too about the future of the park, especially since the City of Salem recently obtained a grant for a new splash-pad – a water based sculpture where children (and adults) will be able to play. You may have seen the Ring Fountain on the Boston Greenway that draws crowds on summer days. Residents have ideas about the shape and location of the welcome addition.

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Participants look at splash pad examples.

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Zena, Friends of Mary Jane Lee Park, points out her favorite spalsh pad in Albion Park, Somerville.

Have you been to any of these splash-pads around Boston?

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HulaArt at the Salem Arts Festival

 

HulaArt Install FB imageHulaArt is a collection of individual, unique art expressions aggregated together to create a unified installation greater than the sum of its parts, yet simultaneously modified by those discrete contributions. This collaborative art installation helped to increase the participation in art making at this year’s Salem Arts Festival (SAF). During the last four months, over 120 students, artists, and locals created unique art pieces that have been integrated into the HulaArt Canopy for this weekend’s festivities.

HulaArt plan three parts multicolorThe project design began in earnest in January after the SAF committee approved a rendering of what a hula hoop canopy over Artists’ Row might look like. The design needed to evolve at two different scales: at the macro level, over four hundred hula hoops had to span the irregular buildings of Artist Row.

HulaArt How To

At the micro level, we worked to promote the re-use of recycled materials to create diverse art expressions. Through early March workshops at the Phoenix School, kids freely interpreted and greatly improved the possibilities for how HulaArt could work. together we evolved two distinct approaches: “Objects on a String” and “Fabric Stretch.”

Workshop Photos

The public launch of the project at the Peabody Essex Museum’s Artopia night began a series of HulaArt workshops throughout Salem during the spring, in addition to groups and individuals that took on HulaArt unaided.

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HULA ART public art installation for Salem Arts Festival on Artists Row – Salem MA from Social Palates on Vimeo.

After a sunny, ten hour installation, over four hundred hula hoops, a fifth of which were transformed into HulaArt, form a colorful canopy above Salem’s Artist Row. The installation was performance art when we watched people negotiate the pedestrian street paved with the hoops, acrobatic circus when two cherry pickers, several ladders, and people on the ground too lifted each of the five sections of the canopy into place, and a chance to speak to numerous people about what it was: public art, collaboration, and the upcoming Salem Arts Festival this weekend.HulaArt LOGO

Reality and Imagination at Palmer Street Lot

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A great deal of imagination is still needed for the Palmer Street lot as it remains in a legal tangle. Last fall, we gathered over 90 suggestions of what residents hope the Palmer Lot will become in the future. It is still uncertain since its owner is still nowhere to be found, but retains the right to his property since it is current on all taxes, thanks to the mortgage company. Now, it stands, still colorful, with “community” as its tagline, but a bit of a relic before its time. As noted above: imagination is sorely needed! (and perhaps some legal knowledge wouldn’t hurt!)

An Early May Walk through the Point

As we near the end of May, breezy and calm with a dash of rain, the beginning of the month seems an era ago, with its frozen ground, snow drifts, and biting wind. A Friday afternoon walk shows the neighborhood beginning to wake after a long winter: the spring thaw characterized by trees in flower and play on asphalt.

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Flowering tree on Prince Street, across from Mary Jane Lee Park.

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Salem Street is for play, not just cars!

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Balcony of toys ready for outside play in Mary Jane Lee Park.

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The middle block between Harbor and Ward Streets reveals dramatic in-between spaces; they host play, especially on small scooters and tricycles.

Tree in bloom on Harbor Street, while the historic, abandoned building awaits its future fate...

Tree in bloom on Harbor Street, while the historic, abandoned building awaits its future fate…

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A surprising view, with dramatic sky, towards Ward Street.

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The future site of the Ward Street Pocket Park has been the site of informal play for over a decade.

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Bright Blooms


April PNA Meeting

Commitment Cards to Improve the Point!

Commitment Cards to Improve the Point!

The April Neighborhood meeting was a collaboration between the Point Neighborhood Association, the North Shore Community Development Coalition, and multiple local organizations, institutions, and citizens to commit to improving the neighborhood by taking concrete steps to implement the Point Neighborhood Visioning Plan, completed last year.

Some precise accomplishments and next steps discussed include:

  • The Point will be on the National Register for Historic Places
  • Enhance the existing four parks in the neighborhood
  • The grant towards a splash pad – an interactive water play fountain – was announced. It will be located in Mary Jane Lee Park.
  • Employ park ambassadors to enrich the park aesthetics and experience for residents
  • Community gardens to stimulate, foster, and enhance stewardship
  • Enhance the diversity and quantity of affordable housing
  • An analysis of Shetland Park Businesses
  • More bilingual workshops at the NSCDC
  • Work to devise strategies for improving business opportunities along the two main corridors: Congress and Lafayette Streets
  • Celebrate the history of the neighborhood

Of the attendees, it seems like about half were Point residents, while the others were interested parties representing institutions and organizations. Bringing these great ideas, initiatives, and discussions to more residents remains a significant step to take. There are a lot opportunities for creative engagement in the community from the business and entrepreneurial to the artistic – get in touch if you want to be part of any of these endeavors!