Some visions for what Arsenal Park could look like after some sprucing up went on display Wednesday night, and residents got an opportunity to give their reviews.
The Department of Community Development and Planning (DCDP) hosted the event at the Commander’s Mansion, where three options could be viewed on large boards. Attendees got a chance to write their comments and put them on the boards using yellow sticky notes.
Some of the areas that planners wanted to improve include the signage inside and outside the park, said DCDP Director and Assistant Town Manager Steve Magoon.
“A lot of people describe Arsenal Park as a hidden gem, but it is not really well known,” Magoon said. “We want to change that.”
What the signs will look like is not clear, but they could be both on Arsenal Street and along the entrance that passes through the Arsenal Yards – formerly the Arsenal Mall.
The east side of the park gets little use. There is a tennis practice wall, a bocci ball area and a place for volleyball. All three illustrations removed those features and have an open green space. One of them goes a bit farther, creating a knoll in that area.
“It adds a little bit of a topography feature on the east side,” said Town Tree Warden Chris Hayward. “Some people have said they want to see the Charles River. We could cut some openings in the vegetation – remove invasive species – so you can get on the knoll and see the river.”
A couple of existing features are proposed to be improved. One is the amphitheater, which is located to the south of the playing fields.
“There is a lot of erosion in that area,” Magoon said. “It is proposed we strengthen the buffer between the road and the stage and potentially bring electrical service in.”
The pathways through the site are also proposed to be improved. One area of focus would be a path from that comes off the bottom of the walking path and connects to the gateway at North Beacon Street and Greenough Boulevard. Watertown Senior Planner Gideon Schreiber said there is a gravel path there now, but it has degraded, and needs to be improved.
Improving the path is part of the I-Cubed work that will be funded by Athenahealth. The program is a joint venture with Athena, the Town and the Mass. Department of Conservation and Recreation.
The Community Gardens remained in Arsenal Park in all three scenarios, but it was was shown different locations. One kept it where it is now, another moved it to the end of the courts next to the green open space on the east side of the park, and a third option was to move it to where the tot lot is located now and build a tot lot by the basketball courts.
The tennis courts will be resurfaced and lighting may be added, Magoon said.
Many brought up the need for more parking at a public meeting in August. One idea is to turn the current circular driveway into a one-way drive and redesign the parking.
Adding a water feature, such as a splash pad, was also proposed.
Some other possibilities are:
• Expanding picnic area and adding tot lot
• Adding an architectural feature such as a trellis in the center of the park
• Add more covered areas or gazebos
• Putting in exercise stations
• Have food trucks and/or the farmer’s market in the park
• Painting a mural along a building to tell the history of the Watertown Arsenal and the park
Some items that were brought up at the August meeting that did not make the list include a swimming pool and covered tennis courts, Magoon said.
Town officials will take the information from Tuesday’s presentation and come up with one proposal, Magoon said. Then the plan would be presented to the Conservation Commission, which has authority over the park because it is so close to the Charles River.
If the Conservation Commissioners approve of the changes the Town can move ahead with the project, Magoon said, if not, they will have to reconsider parts of the plan.