Boston Public Works Department
Neighbors at a recent meeting gave their unanimous approval to a new design for a tiny parcel of public land just off Salem Street in the North End.
Bartlett Place lies just across Salem from Parmenter Street, between Terramia Ristorante and A New Spin Laundry, where a four-story yellow- and red-brick residential building is set back about 50 feet from the street.
Of this approximately 30-foot-wide space, about 12 feet on the right must be set aside as roadway leading to the private alley that runs between the building and its neighbor. But between the roadway and Terramia lies a teensy plot, just 940 square feet, that the city has designated as a “Neighborhood Commons” site.
In an interview, Para M. Jayasinghe, a Public Works Department engineer, explained that the Neighborhood Commons program finds small, underused areas of public land that can be converted to park-like spaces for public enjoyment.
Currently home to a worn concrete planter and, frequently, a pile of neighborhood garbage, Bartlett Place would be set up like a small Italian piazza, with patterned pavement, decorative bollards, bicycle racks, and large pots that would hold modest-sized but decorative trees such as crabapples or magnolias.
The plan would also address current drainage issues and completely resurface the public area, said Zachary E. Wassmouth, principal civil engineer for the Public Works Department.
City engineers previously came before the community in September with a concept for Bartlett Place that included public seating and a series of planters, Wassmouth said.
But residents were concerned about people congregating at the tables and chairs late at night, Wassmouth said, and feared that the planters would be difficult to maintain and would be treated as trash receptacles.
Instead, residents told engineers last year, the area should be protected by bollards, and trees should be incorporated into the design.
Abutters, several of them residents or owners of units at 8 – 12 Bartlett Place, enthusiastically embraced the new plan, with some offering to assist in maintaining the area.
“Speaking for myself, I’d be willing to help,”said Mark Bernier, who lives at Bartlett Place and said a spigot on the side of the building could be used to water the trees.
The engineers estimate the project will take about six or seven months to complete: two months to arrive at a final design, another three to four months to obtain necessary approvals and go through the bidding process to select a contractor, and about one month for the construction of the park area.
Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com