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PARKS + RECREATION
Historic Elm Park
Elm Park in Worcester, MA is considered to be one of the first purchases of land for recreation purposes using public funds in the United States. In 1854, the land was purchased by the City of Worcester for the explicit purpose of creating a new “Public Common”. Although considered by some as the oldest public park in the United States, other parks including Central Park in New York and Bushnell Park in Hartford, Connecticut were also being established around this time period. Despite some initial displeasure voiced by the citizens of Worcester for purchasing the tract using public funds, today Elm Park can be considered the crown jewel of Worcester’s park system which consists of over 60 facilities located throughout the city. With elements of the park designed by the firm established by the renowned landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, it retains many of the pastoral features that have become synonymous with historic Olmsted designs.
Since 2011, Beals + Thomas has been providing services to the Parks, Recreation and Cemetery Division of the City’s Department of Public Works and Parks related to renovations and improvements at Elm Park. Most recently, Beals + Thomas has been included in a unique partnership consisting of the City of Worcester’s Parks, Recreation and Cemetery Division, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and students from the carpentry program at the Worcester Technical High School (WTHS). This collaboration has WPI preparing the design and WTHS constructing a replacement for the iconic Red Bridge that spans the narrow channel that connects the South Mere and Elm Mere. The Red Bridge, although having been reconstructed and replaced several times since its initial installation in 1877, has been a popular location for weddings and is considered by some to be the most photographed location in central Massachusetts. The new Red Bridge, once completed and installed, will be compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements correcting the previous steep grade that led to the bridge from both sides. Upon completion, the bridge will be named the Myra Hiatt Kraft Memorial Bridge, in honor of the late philanthropist and Worcester native.
Beals + Thomas assisted the City of Worcester to prepare construction documents for the renovation of Grant Square Park, an approximately 1.6-acre acre park in the Bell Hill neighborhood of Worcester, MA. Utilizing a previously prepared Master Plan, Beals + Thomas completed a detailed design and construction documents for the initial phase
Improvements to the park include a new terraced playground area, where the play equipment is separated by age group, a new basketball court, accessible parking, walking paths and site furnishings including picnic tables and benches.
The Goodwill Park playground is a 0.75-acre recreational reconstruction project that provides access for individuals of all ages and abilities. The reconstruction of Goodwill Park was made possible by the collaborative efforts of local organizations underthe direction of Mission Possible: Holliston, whose goal is to support the development, improvement and maintenance of recreational spaces in Holliston for current and future generations of all abilities.
The reconstructed playground incorporates a new parking area, accessible playground equipment, picnic areas, informal play areas, seating, and educational and sensory opportunities associated with multiple rain gardens and landscape materials. Project components included a topographic survey, tree inventory, design development, rain garden design and drainage calculations, construction documents, and construction support services. Renovation and reconstruction of the existing tennis courts and basketball court at Goodwill Park is currently underway and upon completion will have transformed this outdated facility into a state-of-the-art recreational destination.