By Elise Harmon, news editor
After announcing that it would partner with the City of Boston to revamp William E. Carter Playground, Northeastern University will present the final plans for the project at a community meeting in October.
The date has not yet been set for the meeting, which is the third official dialogue that the university has had with the community about the renovation. Carter Playground, which consists of multiple fields and tennis courts, is located on Columbus Avenue and is a popular spot for local youth sports, as well as for Northeastern club and intramural teams.
“Northeastern is leading the whole design and construction effort,” Ryan Woods, Boston Parks and Recreation Department’s director of external affairs, said. “Boston Parks is just reviewing the design.”
The club girls’ lacrosse team is one of the organizations that regularly practices on the field. The team will benefit from several changes being implemented, including the addition of a turf field and scoreboards.
“Having a turf field would be great,” Sophia Showalter, a defense player on the team, said. “Currently it’s grass, and it’s really muddy most of the time, which makes practice hard and sometimes dangerous.”
Showalter, a sophomore environmental studies and economics major, said she would also like to see lines on the field, benches and a scoreboard.
In May, the university announced that it would invest over $26 million to add an artificial turf soccer field, football field, two baseball/softball diamonds, brand-new tennis courts and a playground.
According to the Northeastern website, the project is a part of the Institutional Master Plan, which Northeastern submitted to the Boston Redevelopment Authority in 2013.
The university, Boston Parks and Recreation and Stantec, the firm contracted to design the site, held two community meetings over the summer on May 12 and June 24. There, citizens gave their input on what they wanted in the park and helped revise and shape the overall design.
According to Woods, residents voiced their desire for an updated playground located in a new spot, a water feature for the hot summer months, walking paths and lighting.
The playground, currently located in a back corner of the lot, will be moved to a different location, and there will be two separate structures – one for 2- to 5-year olds and one for 5- to 12-year olds.
The whole project is expected to take about two years.
Jay Hong, a sophomore business administration major with a concentration in finance, often goes to the park with his fraternity, Kappa Sigma, to play pickup football.
“I heard through the grapevine that the city still owns the park but Northeastern is going to pay for the renovations,” he said. “It’s still public property.”
According to Woods, some residents were concerned that the renovation signalled a privatization of public space. Boston Parks and Recreation worked throughout the process to ensure that the community would have access to the space.
“We wanted to make sure that people who have used the park regularly will still have access,” Woods said. “First preference still goes to the youth sports and community sports [in scheduling what groups will use the park], and Northeastern will also have times.”
As for Northeastern, the field will continue to be used by club and intramural teams, but varsity athletic teams will still use their existing facilities.
“It’s [intended] more for the university’s public and maybe campus recreation sides of things rather than our athletic department,” Mike Skovan, assistant director of athletic communications, said. “I think it’s great that Northeastern will be able to join with the City of Boston and put this in play going forward.”
Varun Goyal contributed to this report.
Photo by Brian Bae