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Securing a $580,000 grant could bring the Lynn Commons back to life

The Lynn Commons. (Screenshot | Google Maps)

LYNN — The City Council authorized Mayor Thomas M. McGee on Tuesday night to seek a $580,000 grant to finalize the facelift of the Lynn Commons.

James Marsh, the city’s community development director, said the unanimous approval from the City Council allows the city to apply for a $580,000 Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) grant, which is administered through the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, for the third phase of the Lynn Commons project.

Marsh said the city would match $180,000 in community development block grant money — the grant and matching funds would go toward refurbishing the restroom, 25 decorative lights, fountain repair and installation of pavers, or a walkway surrounding the antique fountain.

He said the fountain, which is about 10 feet tall by 10 feet wide, hasn’t worked for about a decade. The original fountain was designed in 1895 and the current black fountain was added to the park in 1987.

The 1987 fountain has three levels and had a colored light display. The controls for the lights and the fountain were located underground and flooded in a rainstorm. The company who designed the lights is no longer in business. The lights still work, but the computer controls and pumps do not, according to the Lynn Commons Master Plan.

Marsh said in the park’s heyday, the Lynn Commons Bandstand, which underwent a $900,000 restoration in 2014 as part of the project, and the fountain were the centerpiece of the Commons. Once the revamp is complete, he envisions both as becoming the crowning features again.

If the grant is secured, Marsh said he expects work to start next summer. When the work is completed, he said, is dependent upon the fountain itself, with figuring out what’s wrong with it and how to fix it.

Marsh said the work in Phase 3 caps off the more than $3 million multi-year project, which kicked off with money to the city’s Master Plan for the entire Commons, which was completed in 2011. The first grant was secured in 2013.

The project has been funded by the PARC grant program and Gateway City Parks Program, which the city has matched with some community development block grant money, Marsh said.

Marsh said a $400,000 PARC grant was awarded for work on the small Common, $850,000 went toward work on the west end and $400,000 for the middle portion of the Common. In addition, the bandstand underwent the $900,000 restoration.

Marsh said work is ongoing right now on the large Common, which should be wrapped up in the fall. That includes installing a walkway and benches and improving landscaping. He said mile markers will also be installed, like on the small Common, so people can gauge how far they’ve walked.

The overall project, he said, has included landscaping, installing benches and antique-style lighting and the walkways have totally been redone.

Marsh said the Lynn Commons is one of the most historic parks in the city — it’s shaped like a woman’s shoe print and is a gateway to the downtown. He said the goal is to program the bandstand more often for live music, as it was intended.

He said the revamp of the Lynn Commons plays into the idea of healthy living and exercise. It’s a passive park, he said, which was meant to be a place in the middle of downtown Lynn where people could take a walk and enjoy the scenery, congregate and socialize, and maybe see a concert.

The purpose of the Master Plan, Marsh said, was for city officials to lay out what needed to be done for the entire Common to bring it back to life.

“(It’s about) utilizing another wonderful city resource to its maximum potential, which is what we’re really all about doing,” he said.

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