By as early as next spring, city residents will be able to walk through a multi-level plaza in Medford Square overlooking Old Salem Burying Grounds.
Work on the 9,700 square foot Riverside Avenue Plaza is underway with contractor Virgilio Construction, Inc. executing a design created by Crosby Schlessinger Smallridge.
“This open space is our version of a common for the city,” said Mayor Stephanie M. Burke in a statement. “Our goal is to have this be a gathering place for performances, arts and offers a unique way for residents to connect with pathways along the Mystic River, while spending time in our historic square.”
Envisioned as a new hub for arts, entertainment and a relaxing spot to stop and enjoy lunch, the park will enhance passive recreation, cultural activities and provide a gathering space for public events in the heart of Medford Square.
It will abut the Burying Grounds, according to the statement, with views of surrounding landmarks as well as connections into the cemetery.
The project design will include demolishing a former bus shelter and transforming the area into a multi-level area that is fully handicap-accessible. The plaza will have new trees and low level plantings, seating and picnic areas, enhanced lighting, accommodating pavement for passive recreation and space suitable for events and more.
Plaza signs will direct visitors to the open space areas along the Mystic River, providing direction to walking and biking routes connecting to surrounding open spaces as well as sites of historic and cultural interest throughout the city.
Construction will cost $749,900, the statement said, with the money awarded through a federal Land and Water Conservation Fund grant and supplemented by state Chapter 90 Funds and city Linkage Funds. The city Office of Community Development and Engineering is overseeing the project.