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HON. PATRICK A. COLLINs,
SIR, - The Board has the honor herewith to submit this report for the year ending January 31, 1903. But one addition to our park area was made during the year: One and six-tenths acres, including parts of the private ways known as Reservoir road and Wade street, were added to Chestnut Hill park by a taking made November 12, 1902, which makes the area of that park in charge of this Board 55.4 acres. The area under the control of the Metropolitan Water and Sewerage Board is 160.65 acres, of which 122.7 acres is in water. To the playgrounds the following additions were made : On May 16, 1902, 88,668 square feet of land in East Boston, bounded by Cottage, Gove, and Lubec streets, and private lots on Maverick street, were taken for a playground for Ward 2, and subsequently, on January 6, 1903, the Board took a further area of 79,126 square feet, which included a part of Lubec street, making the whole area of the playground 3.85 acres. On June 26, 1902, the Board took 9.6 acres of land on Washington street and Florence street, between Forest Hills and Roslindale, and near the land previously taken from Harvard College for a playground. This last-named land was given back to the college, in accordance with its desire, and under the provisions of chapter 187 of the Acts of 1901. On December 8, 1902, the Board added to the Columbusavenue playground 4,397.4 square feet of land on Camden street, occupied by stables. This land was enclosed on three sides by the playground. It is hoped that the buildings may be found useful in connection with the work of the playground. Oak square, Blighton, containing 9,796 square feet of land, formerly used for school purposes, was transferred to this department by the City Council March 24, 1902. The removal of the building and the grading of the site have made a marked improvement at this important street junction. A contract was made December 2, 1902, for a building with lockers and shower-baths for the athletes, and sanitary accommodations in the basement at First-street playground, and plans for other much-needed sanitary and shelter buildings are under way. Further appropriations are needed to make some of the playgrounds better serve the purpose for which they were acquired, as some of them are not yet provided with desirable conveniences and facilities for play. A handsome fountain, designed by Mr. Guy Lowell, has been placed at the Westland avenue entrance of the Fens. This we owe to the generous bequest of Mrs. Ellen C. Johnson, in memory of her husband, Jesse C. Johnson, and to the intelligent and unremitting labors of her executrix, Mrs. Robert S. Russell. A playground is needed in Jamaica Plain and one in the Centre street district, and much more space should be added to the Prince-street playground. A playground in the neighborhood of the Fellows-street playground, for the older youth, would be of much public benefit. The Board can only repeat its suggestion to our rich and public-spirited citizens that no better gift can be made to our city, and no more enduring monument obtained for the giver than a playground. The pollution of the water in the Fens by the sewage discharge from Stony Brook menaces the health of the residents in this part of the city, and is an annoyance to visitors to this park. It is a serious obstacle to the improvement of the neighboring territory. This matter has received careful consideration by this Board. We have called attention to it in previous reports and in communications to the Mayor and the Board of Health. This Board is powerless in the matter, which now rests with the Street Department. The report of the Commission on the Charles River dam, appointed by a resolve of the Legislature of last year, is awaited with interest, as it will deal with this question as well as others affecting the Fens basin. No time should be lost in giving at least temporary relief to the Fens basin from the foul water which now enters into it. This is a most difficult and serious problem to the Park Department of Boston.
Full details of the work of the department during the year will be found in the accompanying reports of our Superintendent and Engineer.
Commissioners. BosTon, January 31, 1903.
TO CHARLEs E. STRATTON, LABAN PRATT AND JAMES M. PRENDERGAST, Commissioners :
GENTLEMEN, - I herewith submit a report of the work performed, under the direction of your Board, during the year 1902.
The improvement in the old woodlands of Franklin Park resulting from the careful and continued thinning out of all overcrowding trees and the pruning off of dead and diseased branches is very marked. This is especially noticeable in the greater spread of branches in the trees and in the increase of desirable undergrowth. A considerable area of woodland has been cleared of tree weeds, notably in the woods opposite and west of the Overlook, on Juniper Hill, and in the woods bordering Morton street. On account of insufficient funds little was done the past season in adding loam to the sterile parts of the old woods. This is regrettable, and it is to be hoped, in the interests of the future, that sufficient money will be given the Board to permit the carrying on of this work.
Thinning out in the plantations was continued, as in past years, to allow room for the full development of trees and shrubs. A large part of the material removed was used in preparing new plantations, and the remainder was sold.
The larger part of the work of the past season in Franklin Park, however, consisted in the preparation of ground for planting and in the care of the young plantations. These plantations, owing to the dryness of the three preceding seasons, required constant cultivation and the application of mulchings for the conservation of moisture in the ground. This work extended generally over the entire system of parks, and, in consequence, the trees and the shrubs are in good growing condition.
The wall on Walnut avenue, between Seaver street and the entrance to Franklin Park, was completed last spring, and the slopes behind the wall were graded and planted. The construction of the widened street at this point by the Street Department would improve very much this important entrance to the park.
The drainage of the Nazingdale hollow was extended into Ellicottdale, and spurs were carried into the wet spots. It is expected that this will complete the tile-drainage of the golf course. The beech plantation near the Refectory also was tile-drained.
The public have shown much interest in a small collection of native wild fowl colonized at Scarboro’ Pond. In view of this arrangements have been made for additions to the number of species. The location is an admirable one for this purpose, as the pond contains three islands well suited for nesting and for protection from dogs. The pond is also a favorite resort of the public.
Several pieces of iron and wood-working machinery have been purchased for our repair shops. Our equipment now enables us to do all our repair work at home, including machine and blacksmith work, horseshoeing, carpentering, plumbing, painting, pipe-work and harnessmaking.
The usual care of the roads and walks was continued.
OLMSTED PARK AND RIVERWAY.
Along the Riverway and the shores of Leverett Pond the work of extending the loam bed to the water's edge is in progress. This work will be completed in time to allow of the planting in the spring of shrubbery nearly to the shore line. Semi-aquatic plants will be planted along the shores. This treatment, by softening the present hard shore line, will greatly improve this beautiful piece of water.
The eight pairs of European swans purchased and placed in Jamaica Pond, and the native geese and ducks, proved very attractive to our many visitors. *
The subject of the Fens is a discouraging one, not alone from the foul condition of its pond, but from the fact that its horticultural possibilities are curtailed by a lack of loam and by the sterile underlying gravel.
By constant tilth, shrubbery may be kept in good growth, yet trees cannot attain fair proportions under such conditions. From time to time additions of loam should be made until the accumulated depth is sufficient in body to afford nutrition for large growth, and, at the same time, to conserve the moisture, which is now quickly absorbed by the gravelly subsoil.