Smith Playground in Allston reopened Saturday after two years of construction. Residents can now visit the playground’s new splash pad or host events in the amphitheater, as well as make use of numerous outdoor sports facilities.
Community members and local sports leagues attended the grand reopening, where Boston Mayor Martin Walsh hosted a ribbon-cutting celebration alongside representatives from the city’s Parks and Recreation Department and Harvard University.
In a press release from the City of Boston, Walsh said the reopening of the park presents an opportunity for community growth and development.
“These green spaces support public health and well-being, they help bring neighbors together, and improve the quality of life for everyone,” Walsh said. “This is a gold standard park that represents the kind of creativity and accessibility we’re including in all new parks in Boston.”
The $6.4 million venture was phase one of a master plan to renovate the playground, according to the press release. It comes as part of the city’s Open Space and Recreation Plan, launched in 2015 as an initiative to improve the quality of numerous open spaces in Boston by 2021.
The new Casey amphitheater was also unveiled. It is dedicated to U.S. Major General George W. Casey, an Allston native who died in 1970 in a helicopter crash on his way to aid soldiers during the Vietnam War. Other new installations include various multipurpose sports fields, a street hockey rink and lighted basketball courts.
Renovations also include wheel-friendly areas for skateboards and bikes as well as pedestrian pathways with lighting. Boston Properties also donated sculptor Donald DeLue’s statue of a nude man reaching toward the sky called “Quest Eternal” and originally located in front of the Prudential Center for placement in the park.
Director of External Affairs and Marketing at Boston’s Parks and Recreation Department Liz Sullivan wrote in an email that the plan was initiated after years of community advocacy.
“We always balance the needs of various segments of the community, i.e. dog owners, families, youth sports, passive recreation,” Sullivan wrote. “We listen to the community and use their feedback to inform designs.”
Walsh’s Capital Plan allocated $3.3 million to the project, while another $2.1 million came from the Harvard Allston Public Realm Flexible Fund, according to the press release. Other contributors include NHL Hockey is for Everyone, the Continuum Project by Samuels & Associates and the Boston College Neighborhood Improvement Fund.
According to the press release, phase two of the master plan will entail the construction of baseball and softball fields. Overall, the Open Space and Recreation Plan aims to enhance “access, equity and excellence” throughout all neighborhoods of Boston, according to its mission statement.
Jennifer Chou, 21, of Back Bay said improvements like these are appreciated by communities and are a good choice in resource allocation.
“Anything that helps community outreach and growth is a good allocation in my opinion,” Chou said. “I feel like it’s super refreshing to see positive changes like these still happening.”
Kenny Harvey, 52, of Brighton said that these changes show how Boston takes care of its communities and that he hopes to see more initiatives in the future.
“I think it’s great, always nice to see the city of Boston taking care of its communities in ways like this,” Harvey said. “It would be nice to see similar changes happening in other areas of Boston soon as well. Hoping we can count on that.”