After a series of contentious public meetings about plans to rehabilitate Lincoln Park near Union Square, Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone announced Wednesday a "reboot" of the planning process.
According to an announcement sent by the mayor's office, the city's Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development will hire a design consultant to "manage a new and more comprehensive planning process for upgrades to recreational facilities at Lincoln Park."
Some neighbors of Lincoln Park who had been opposed to the earlier rehab plans were pleased to hear Wednesday's news of the "reboot." One of them, Alexander D'Hooghe, said "it's increadibly wise of the city" to take a fresh look at Lincoln Park.
Another, Marian Berkowitz, said in an email, "This is absolutely great news! We look forward to working with the mayor on a new redesign of this special park!"
Thomas Champion, a spokesperson in the mayor's office, said the city would hire an outside design consultant to seek input from neighbors and come up with new design ideas. A selection process to chose that consultant would take several weeks, he said.
The "reboot" comes after neighbors near Lincoln Park gave public officials an earful about plans to rehabilitate the park at a Sept. 13 meeting. Other meetings were also held about the project in late summer.
Among other things, the plans called for converting the grass field into an artificial turf field, building basketball courts that could convert into a seasonal ice rink, installing a field house and conducting landscaping and drainage improvements.
Advocates of the rehabilitation pointed to a growth in youth sports, particularly youth soccer, in Somerville and the need provide more practice space for teams. They said the current grass field at Lincoln Park is in deteriorating condition, and an artificial turf field would allow for more practice time throughout the year.
Neighbors felt the plans would have the effect of discouraging more casual use of the park by people in the neighborhood.
The whole project was estimated to cost between $2.5 and $2.7 million, and the city had hoped to begin work in summer of 2013.
Champion said it was too soon to say how the "rebooted" planning process would affect the schedule of designing and constructing a rehabilitated park.
As part of the new process, neighbors will be able to provide more input into the design of the park, the announcement says.
In a statement, Curtatone said, "I think it's … clear that there are strong differences of opinion about how best to proceed in fulfilling Lincoln Park's potential as a community resource. Rebooting the process and adding additional outside expertise should address these concerns."
D'Hooghe, himself an urban designer, said that in Somerville, having a "large open space"—like Lincoln Park—"is a unique feature." He doesn't want to see the park "fragmented," and he's pleased to be able to to participate in future discussions about the space, he said.
More on the Lincoln Park rehab
Neighbors Up in Arms Over Lincoln Park Rehab Plans
City Considers $2.7 Million Rehab of Lincoln Park