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Following $6.4 Million Renovation, Smith Playground Reopens in Allston

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The renovated Smith Playground in Allston — boasting the City of Boston’s first pumptrack, a new multipurpose sports field, a street hockey rink, and an amphitheater — officially reopened to the public earlier this month.

The total budget for the $6.4 million redesign project, which underwent a public master planning process in 2015, included a $1.9 million contribution from the Harvard Allston Public Realm Flexible Fund — a local grant program for projects that enhance public spaces. The new renovations mark the end of phase one of the project.

University Executive Vice President Katie Lapp joined Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Boston Recreation Commissioner Ryan Woods at the playground’s reopening ceremony Nov. 2. She called the redesign an important step in promoting the “shared future” between Harvard and Allston.

“The Smith Field project has been one of the most exciting and rewarding of Harvard’s commitment to the community, and this incredible space will continue to strengthen ties between our campus and our community,” Lapp wrote in an emailed statement.

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The park’s renovations grew out of public input from several open meetings. The project falls within the City’s Open Space and Recreation Plan, a six-year program aimed at promoting and protecting open space in Boston.

The central goals of the project are to increase the park’s green space, improve its accessibility and visibility, and serve residents of all ages, according to its master plan.

Harvard-Allston Task Force Chair John A. Bruno said the park will improve the livability and sustainability of the neighborhood, especially given its central location. He added that he is glad that Harvard had acknowledged its responsibility to give back to the city.

“I think for Harvard to understand and cooperate with the City of Boston and the neighborhood, in the quality of life issues — that they're an important component, you know, to create a useful community, a stable community, and a resourceful community,” Bruno said.

Planning for the second phase – which will include the construction of baseball and softball fields — kicked off Nov. 6 with a planning meeting open to Allston residents.

Brighton resident Jane McHale noted that the vast variety of amenities that the park offers — ranging from picnic spaces to outdoor exercise equipment — will ensure it is a space for everyone who needs it.

“It will be really a big gathering place for the neighborhood. And it’s far more beautiful than it ever was,” McHale said.

— Katelyn X. Li can be reached at katelyn.li@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter at @katelynxli.

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