Standing against the backdrop of a large yellow excavator, University President Drew G. Faust and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh shoveled sand to ceremonially break ground at William F. Smith Field—a park adjacent to Harvard Stadium in Allston—on Monday.
Harvard and the City of Boston have jointly funded the $6.5 million renovation of the Smith Field complex, which will include improved public sports fields, new walking paths, a playground, a street hockey court, and an amphitheater for performances.
During the ceremony, Mayor Walsh thanked Faust and Harvard for assisting in funding these renovations.
The City of Boston Capital Improvement Fund is paying for $3.3 million of the project and three other sources have collectively contributed $1 million. Harvard will allocate $1.9 million of its $5.35 million flexible fund for public improvements in Allston towards funding the first phase of construction. The University also footed the $700,000 bill for pathway construction around the park.
Allstonians, the City, and Harvard prioritized this project in the University’s 2013 Institutional Master Plan and community benefits planning, according to Harvard spokesperson Brigid O’Rourke.
Faust praised the renovations as a way to strengthen ties between the University and Allston residents.
"Public parks provide an important reminder of our responsibilities to our environment, to our neighborhoods and to each other,” Faust said.
Beyond serving recreational purposes, the 14-acre park is named after William F. Smith, who died in World War I, is a memorial.
Last year, the City of Boston Parks Commission voted to name the new amphitheater after General George Casey, an Allston resident who died while serving in Vietnam. Casey’s widow and son were among the 100 attendees of the event.
Millie H. McLaughlin, an Allston resident on the Harvard-Allston Task Force, said it was wonderful to see residents and representatives from the Mayor’s Office, Boston Planning & Development Agency, Harvard University, Boston Parks & Recreation, and the armed forces come together to celebrate.
“That’s half the fun—meeting up with your neighbors,” McLaughlin said.
Longtime Allston resident Joyce Radnor said Smith Field is an important gathering place for the community with the renovation “long overdue.”
“If Harvard’s renderings of the project are indeed what the community will see next summer, I think it’s going to be fabulous,” she said.—Staff writer Sarah Wu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @sarah_wu_.