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Updated plans for Suffolk Downs open space presented to Conservation Commission

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By Adam Swift


An outdoor park and amphitheater at the Suffolk Downs development will serve a dual purpose.

Wednesday night the Conservation Commission approved changes to the orders of conditions which will allow for the completion of the amphitheater basin as both a public space and a stormwater management area.

“We understand that open space is a key aspect for all the future residents and tenants here, but also, we are in a very sensitive resource area, and having a high level of stormwater management treatment is important,” said project engineer Liz Clark.

The basin, which is located on the edge of the property near Sales Creek, would have a wet bottom about six feet deep with subsurface chambers underneath to maximize stormwater flood storage. Clark said there will also be a data system with sensors and a valve that can open and close and adjust to flooding in real time. The basin will safely fill about two-thirds of the way up during 100-year flood events, according to Clark.

“We really see this as a great opportunity to design a fully accessible public park that just happens to do all it needs to do from a stormwater standpoint,” said Founding Director Chris Reed of Stoss Landscape Urbanism.

There will be a set of pathways all the way around the basin that will be fully accessible to the public, said Reed.

“On the side closer to where the buildings will be, we’re looking at more active edges, so there will be stepped seat walls where people can gather under trees,” said Reed.

The seat walls will be set up as if they are looking at a performance at a wood deck hovering over the water, he added.

“We are really trying to do something that performs for stormwater that’s really a beautiful space for people to hang out in and that can host some activities and events, but that really works as an everyday park,” said Reed.

Conservation Commissioner Joseph Lavalle raised some questions about mosquito control at the basin. Clark said there will be an aerator at the bottom of the basin that will help move the water and cut down on the potential mosquito population.

Conservation Commissioner Brian Averback said he was excited when he first heard that the amphitheater basin park is going to be part of the Suffolk Downs project. “It reminds me of what the town of Wakefield has with a lake that people can walk around,” he said.

While the path around the basin will only total about one-eighth of a mile, Reed said, people looking to exercise can also use other planned paths near the basin.

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