The long-overdue replacement of the hazardous pavement between the South End branch library and its adjacent Library Park will start sometime during the week of August 4, according to a recent email from BPL president Amy Ryan to the branch's library staff. Ryan had mentioned the planned repair in her annual budget presentation to the City Council earlier this spring. For several years, FOSEL volunteers had asked the BPL to fix the surface tiles, without results. It wasn't until the South End's State Rep. Byron Rushing, a BPL trustee, was made aware of treacherous access to the library that the project got wind in its sails. "He told us to just get it done," Christine Schonhart, head of the BPL's branches, said in a April phone call.
Regrettably, the equally deteriorated pavement on the Rutland Square side of Library Park is not part of the project, nor is the dilapidated but once lovely pavement inside the park. The BPL is a division of the city of Boston, funded by its taxpayers, but even though the BPL technically owns the entire lot from West Newton and Tremont Streets to Rutland Square and the alley on the back, maintenance and repairs are inconveniently dispersed over several city agencies. Thus, the pavement on the other side of the tiny park, where it meets Rutland Square, may fall under the Department of Public Works, according to Jim Meade, superintendent of library buildings at the BPL. Library Park and its crumbling patio, on the other hand, is maintained by the Department of Parks and Recreation. While BPL's Ryan told the City Council during the budget hearing she was in talks with the city's parks department about the Library Park's pavement repair, no further details about that project have been announced.
The multi-tinted tiles between the branch and the park will be replaced in the same color scheme, according to Meade, although there may be a slight difference in size, due to availability (the park and the library were built in the early 1970s). Access to the library during the work phase will be across the concrete coping from Tremont Street. Work will start early in the day to reduce inconvenience for library patrons. However, the gates on the library's side of the park will be closed for the duration of the project which means that crossing Library Park to the branch from the Rutland Square entrance will be temporarily suspended; pedestrians have to go around the park on Tremont Street to get to the branch's entrance. According to Meade, the project should take no more than a couple of days, at most a week.