Now another good year is ending for both Blackstone Parks and what we hope will be an especially good one begins. In 2018 the Blackstone Parks Conservancy (BPC) and the Providence Department of Parks and Recreation plan to float a new vision of the Boulevard and to start long-needed repairs on the Boulevard path.
A Boulevard Path Transformed
The BPC and the PD have long struggled to find affordable, durable, and porous means to patch the worst sections of the Boulevard path, which was last resurfaced in its entirety in 1999-2000. Heavy use along with erosion brought on by rainstorms and winter weather has taken a heavy toll. For several years, thousands of people from all over Providence and beyond who enjoy walking or running on the Boulevard have tolerated mud and pitted surfaces. Clearly, it’s time to rebuild.
Before 2000, BPC board member Bob Murphy recalls a path full of rocks and tree roots with a few splintery benches and frequented by only “a few hardy people.” But after the year 2,000 upgrade, which was paid for with a $133,000 bond, people flocked to the Boulevard. The Blackstone Park Improvement Association began seeking and managing donations for trees and benches, and the BPC continued the program, installing over 300 trees and many benches under Treasurer Deming Sherman’s management.
More than Patching
One of several welcome new additions to the BPC board in 2017 was landscape architect Colgate Searle, with his passion for tackling soil and plant issues and vision for a more pedestrian-friendly Boulevard. You may have seen him digging test pits along the path this summer. This fall Colgate met with fellow board member, greenwater infrastructure expert Jon Ford and drafted a detailed plan of all the sections of the path, which vary widely in composition.
Next steps: the Parks Department will estimate costs to resurface the entire path (more thoroughly than before), and the BPC will begin raising funds. Hopefully, work can begin this spring, but the pace of upgrading, be it two years or five, will depend on donors. Executive Director Amy Larkin calls this “all hands on deck.”
A Shout Out:
To the hardworking BPC committees and to our faithful Board members.
Special thanks to Charlie and Kenzie Larkin and Ike Paull, who brought spirit and energy to Park Keeping sessions in 2017.