Community Real Estate Sports

Exploring Options for the Snow Hill Street Wall Along the “Gassy”

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The North End is one step closer to a more open Snow Hill Street with a new wall on the side of DeFilippo Playground, known as the “Gassy.” The existing brick wall is falling apart and needs to be completely replaced. A second community meeting was held this week with Project Manager Michele Folts from the Parks Department and Engineer Bill Capone from Bayside Engineering.

Engineer Bill Capone and Parks Department Project Manager Michele Folts (Photo by Matt Conti).Based on feedback from the last community meeting, three options were presented which include a complete reconstruction of the wall and sidewalk. A re-pointing of the granite blocks is also included in the project. Engineer Capone said the granite blocks are solid and structurally sound, although the brick portion of the wall needs to be replaced.

The three options were variations of a lower brick wall, around 4-5 feet high, with or without an iron-type fence on top. The current brick wall is 8.5 feet high which many residents say gives an unsafe, locked-in feeling.

Residents generally agreed to increase visibility into the park by replacing the 8.5 foot brick wall with one at a lower height and add an iron-type fence on top for safety and security.

Residents were mixed whether to have brick columns or just a fence with metal posts. Some residents were concerned about noise from the park on Snow Hill Street. The Parks Department budget at $280,000 is also a defining factor.

One concern of a lower wall is the added noise from the park to residences along Snow Hill Street. Officials thought that the current wall reverberates sound on the street.


The brick portion of the wall will be capped with concrete as will the granite buttresses inside the Gassy. Most attendees agreed, however, that the top of the lowered brick wall should be beveled, not flat, so that tourists and walkers would not leave trash on the wall.

There was a question as to whether an entrance can be added in the middle of Snow Hill Street into the park. Officials thought that would break the budget. Residents also questioned why the City is not installing added lighting infrastructure during the wall’s construction. The Parks Department said that lighting was not part of this project, but some could be considered as part of next year’s playground planning.

Residents were clear that the combined height of the wall and fence should still be high at 8-9 feet to appease safety concerns. The drop-off on the Gassy side of the wall is over 20 feet. The group agreed that the wall should not encourage “climbing.”

There will be a third public meeting in January 2011 with a construction start date expected in early Summer.

DeFilippo Playground is known as the “Gassy,” due to the park’s founding when large gas tanks were removed in the mid-20th century. See the historical photo gallery for pictures.


7 Replies to “Exploring Options for the Snow Hill Street Wall Along the “Gassy”

  1. Option 1 has a stepped wall and stepped columns. Option 2 is very similar, but has a gradually sloped wall and columns. The option preferred by most residents at the meeting was a modified Option 3 that would include a 4-foot high gradually sloped brick wall with a 4-foot high iron fence above it, for a total height of about 8-feet. The 4-foot wall was seen to preserve some of the noise barrier benefits of the existing high wall. while the fence above would provide more openness. I believe many in the room were intrigued by a resident's suggestion to add a third entrance to the park, possibly somewhere between Cleveland Place and Sheafe Street, but the City seems intent on keeping the scope of the project (and the cost) to the wall replacement only.

  2. I find the first option the most stunning, and it shocked me that the pallid third was the favorite–until it was specified by David that more wall equals less noise. One thing is for sure, the existing picture for option three does not appear to show safe walling. A four foot wall with aditonal open fencing above sounds much safer. I can only imagine hearing of a fall because some youths were sitting on the wall or accidentally pushed one of their group over it.

    Not sure if four feet of wall will catch much noise–just some, as David notes.


    Safety first, I hope. But something eye catching–or pleasing–would be nice, too.

  3. There are already 2 entrances to the Gassy: the entire length of the park on Prince St and the entrance at the top of Snow and Hull that goes down "the flights". An entrance form say the middle fo Snow St would require a new set of stairs and would increase the noise on SNow Hill, Sheafe and Cleveland Pl. Seriously people, it's not that far to get from Hull & Sheafe Sts or Cleveland Pl to Prince St to enter the park.

  4. Option 1 is the most attractive. 2 columns equal and stepped to the nex 2 coloumns provides more brick space if sound is an issue than option 3 which is the same size base wall as 1, 2 and 3. Cost is the first factor for the city but for the neighborhood a long term design statement option 1 is the only option. Also, will the neighborhood vote on the design? Are the residents and Building owners of Snow Hill being included at the top level of discussions because their taxes will increase with the beautification and they will endure the construction and long term changes of Snow Hill. Approximately 20 + parking spaces will be lost during constuction will the city allow residents in the tennis courts or basketball courts during the constuction? A third entrance is not necessary. Solar lights built into the brick columns illuminating the side walk on Snow Hill would be an attractive enhancement to that side of the street and prevent light pollution from the residents of the buildings facing the street. I hope option 1 is within budget and our neighborhood is allowed to vote. Thank you for the hard work by all involved residents and Happy Healthy New Year

  5. Option 3 has a visual strength that lives up to the impressive infrastructural quality of that area.

    Option 1 looks like a cheap perimeter fence around a funeral home in the suburbs. Yuck.

    Just looked again, and I really like Option 3. Very cool and energizing.

    I hope they choose that. I'd rather the wall crumble into ruin than to build options 1 or 2. Hideous.

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