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.
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.