State officials expect to break ground for the construction of the Kennedy Memorial Park by the first week of November, Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) officials said last week.
The five acre park will be erected in the wedge of land abutting Charles Square, Memorial Drive, John F. Kennedy Street, and the Kennedy School of Government. The project has an estimated budget of $2.5 million and will be financed by the MDC, which owns the land.
The park will be Massachusetts' official dedication to the memory of President John F. Kennedy '40, and was originally designated as the site for the Kennedy Memorial Library.
The plans for the library were dashed during the late seventies, according to Charles Shurcliff '65 of the MDC, when a mixture of "citizen and public policy opposition" stopped construction. Cambridge citizens were fearful that the library would lure tourists and create additional traffic and congestion in the Harvard Square area.
"Anything that brings in tons of people is bound to create environmental concerns," said Paul Dunham, the planning officer for the Harvard Planning Group and the representative for Harvard on the citizens' committee developing the park.
The Kennedy Memorial Library now stands at Columbia Point in the Boston neighborhood of Dorchester. The park's location is four miles from Kennedy's birth place in Brookline, and was originally chosen by the slain president as the site of a library to be built in his honor.
The plan to build the park was established in 1976, although funds did not become availavble for construction until 1984.
Neither Caroline Kennedy, who is representing the Kennedy family's interests in the park's design, nor a family spokesman could be reached for comment last week.
The construction of the park was authorized in 1976 by the Massachusetts State Legislature in a statement specifying that it must be a passive park for public use, "dedicated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to the memory of John Fitzgerald Kennedy."
Caryl R. Johnson & Associates of Cambridge will be the landscape design consultants for the project. The park will have trees and grass with a central overflowing fountain pool and granite sitting area. The sycamores already standing in the area will be left intact.
Four wrought iron gateways will be inscribed with quotes from Kennedy's speeches. In accordance with the Kennedy's wishes, there will be no explicit statues of the late president.
The park's site originally held the MBTA's car barns, and was used by the MBTA as a stockyard during the rennovation of the Harvard Square T-station.