While people have always loved playing, picnicking and hiking outdoors, the COVID pandemic has prompted schools and communities to get creative to host a greater variety of outdoor activities.
For example, city workers erected makeshift tents at schools where classes were held, opening up new opportunities.
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As plans progress, residents will be able to enjoy another outdoor space without paying a penny for labor with the construction of a new, permanent, multi-purpose structure and pavilion in Cabot Park.
“I thought this would be a good fit,” said Paul Hajian of Newton, director of the Massachusetts College of Art + Design’s graduate program in architecture, in a recent interview.
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There’s been an “explosion” of outdoor activities in recent years “that can only be the silver bullet when you’re cooped up,” he said.
Hajian recently spoke to the city’s Parks & Recreation Commission about working with the school’s Community Build Studio to create the structure in the park. It would be a win-win project as Masters students would learn how to navigate working with a city and Newton would gain another space of activity.
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If approved, Masters students would:
- Conduct meetings about the project with members of the community
- Interact with each of the city departments
- Present the developed designs for the project
- Complete construction free until mid-August.
City looks ahead
Although the project is currently in the feasibility phase, efforts are being made to make it a reality.
“The project must go through a public input and public hearing from the Parks and Recreation Commission in order to move forward,” said Nicole Banks, Commissioner of Newton Parks, Recreation & Culture. “The aim is that if the project is approved, it will be completed by the end of August .”
Although a definitive Cabot Park location was not chosen, “it is likely to be near or directly behind the field house so that it would not interfere with other park activities,” Banks said.
Funds have been set aside for park improvements as part of the Cabot School Building Project.
“Until the project plans move forward, we won’t have a final budget, but the expectation is that this project will cost around $50,000,” Banks said.
Regarding the next steps, she said: “We will definitely be back before that [Parks & Recreation] Commission this project after community input meetings have been held.”