The 1st Lt. Arthur E. Farnham and TSgt. Connolly Jr. Memorial Park in Canton, MA was recently featured in Landscape Architecture Magazine in an article called ‘Soft Landing’ by Jane Roy Brown.
This former 338-acre site was developed as an airport in 1930 but was removed from public use in the 1950s with the closing of the airport. This project represents the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation commitment to protecting natural resources, through the extensive investment in the cleanup of this site, while providing recreational resources. The initial challenge included the remediation requirements of a 14 acre site under the Massachusetts Contingency Plan (MCP) and the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and integrating a design for a public park with remedial design of a very large, very contaminated site.
Making this new park unique is its location within the Fowl Meadow portion of the Fowl Meadow and Ponkapoag Bog Area of Critical Environmental concern (ACEC), the potential presence of endangered species including the Blanding’s Turtle, that most of the site is wetland within the 10-year floodplain of the Neponset River and within the zone of contribution to public water supply wells, and the necessity of maintaining access to two large sewer mains that cross the site.
The 14 acre core-park responds to the various layers of site history, including its agricultural use – evident through the stone walls found throughout northern sections of the site. Hangar areas are delineated with locally sourced Micha Shist stone seating walls, and a pavilion/overlook, inspired by the vintage aircraft that once occupied this site, references the airport history while providing a dramatic overlook for wetland views and bird watching. Informational signage tell the stories of Local Heroes 1st Lt. Farnham and TSgt. Connolly (for whom the park is named), aviatrix Dotty Shaw, The Massachusetts Air Terminal and Arena, and Dr. Bollinger of Harvard and Otto Koppen of MIT and their groundbreaking invention of the Helioplane.
The park connects people to this natural resource, educates the public about the natural environment and provides for recreational enjoyment, all increasing stewardship. Interpretative materials within the entrance area educate users to plant communities that can be found throughout the site. After 4 years of construction, the return of the birdlife has been astonishing. Already, dedicated birdwatchers have nestled in and installed birdhouses within the park’s various habitats. Mallard Ducks, Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, American Goldfinches, Swamp Sparrow, and Red-winged Blackbirds are among the many bird species seen habituating the park area.
The trails developed here are a key component to the regional trail network, linking the Neponset River and Blue Hill Reservation trails to the north with the Warner and Moose Hill trails to the south. The 14 acre Farnham and Connolly Jr. Memorial Park is only the first phase for this 338 acre parcel of land, and through these placemaking efforts, aims to create a constituency to advocate for building on the work that has been done to date. To read the article online, click here.
- Client MA DCR
- Date February 23, 2016
- Tags Parks