This past Friday Somerville’s Hoyt Sullivan Playground opened to the public. Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone and Arn Franzen, the City's Director of Parks and Open Space, presided over the ribbon cutting. The turnout was fantastic, and we were so happy to see so many neighborhood kids present, all of whom who have been patiently awaiting the opening!
The park redesign emphasizes adventure play for all ages. A dynamic and interactive water feature is nestled inside a sand play area where kids can engage with different textures and pliable materials. There are two wood climbing structures and a tower with slides. A cycle track or ‘The Speedway’, as some kids are calling it, winds through the entire playground. Utilizing the site topography, the track climbs to the highest point of the playground via a switchback then allows kids to race down the back side in a straight-away.
One of the many community requests was for an area to more easily view trains. Neighborhood kids refer to Hoyt Sullivan as "train-go-by park" so we emphasized the connection by creating a new viewing platform which extends over the steep slope of the track embankment and allows kids to watch commuter trains (and eventually the green line trolleys, when the new extension is completed) pass by the park. When the first train passed the morning of the opening, kids came running to the platform from every corner of the park. It was the reaction we were hoping for!
In addition to the play features, the playground and park provide improved spaces for the community to gather and enjoy the outdoors. A community table and other seating are part of the redesign. Improved lighting allows the site to be utilized after the sun sets and preserving the tree canopy provides ample shade for visitors throughout the day. An existing beach tree continues to be the centerpiece of the park, but now families can sit on the deck surround enjoying the tree in a more intimate way.
With focusing on natural materials, adventure play and bolstering community gathering opportunities, while preserving much of the original tree canopy, Hoyt Sullivan is the product of a visionary and collaborative process which creates a new paradigm of community parks for Somerville.