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New dome to open Carter Playground year-round for the Boston community

Construction on the bubble surrounding the Carter Playground field continues on December 20, 2018. Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

Northeastern students and Boston residents will be able to use the William E. Carter Playground year-round for sports and other recreational activities following the assembly of an inflatable dome over one of the athletic fields.

Construction crews on Thursday inflated the dome over the playground, which has received significant upgrades as a result of a public-private partnership between Northeastern and the city of Boston.

The bubble allows the field to be used year-round by thousands of Northeastern students and city residents for sports and other recreational purposes.

The assembly of the dome, which rises 72 feet above the ground at its peak height, comes after Northeastern unveiled the revitalized Carter Playground, a once forlorn city park on Columbus Avenue, in September.

The covered field, which is expected to open to Northeastern students and members of the community by the end of January, is made of durable fabric materials, supported by wire cables, and anchored to the ground in concrete.

Northeastern committed $108 million to the Carter Playground project, including $26 million in construction and $82 million in maintenance over 30 years. The university also increased the park’s size by 25 percent by contributing property previously occupied by its Camden parking lot to the renovation.

Photos by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

“This is a strategy that long term is going to pay us great dividends,” said Jack Malone, associate vice president of facilities at Northeastern. “For kids living in the city, their first initiation with Northeastern will be coming to our campus and seeing how well [Carter Playground] is maintained and seeing how Northeastern is giving back to the community.”

The park features two fields that can be used for soccer, football, baseball, softball, lacrosse, and other sports—as well as five tennis courts and open recreational space. The bubble will be used this winter by 13 club sports teams at Northeastern, including ultimate frisbee, lacrosse, rugby soccer, baseball, and field hockey.

A “tot lot” area, which has equipment for children with disabilities, is dedicated

Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

to Northeastern graduate Victoria McGrath, who was injured in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and then died in an accident overseas in 2016.

The bubble will be open to city residents and Northeastern students seven days a week. The covered field will primarily be used by Northeastern students who participate in club and intramural sports.

The park is named after Sgt. William E. Carter, an African American veteran of the Spanish-American War and World War I, who was killed in action in France in 1918.

The revitalization of Carter Playground continues Northeastern’s longstanding commitment to the city and the neighborhoods surrounding campus.

In fiscal year 2018, Northeastern voluntarily contributed $1.5 million to the city through the Payments in Lieu of Tax, or PILOT, program. The university has committed to paying $1.7 million in fiscal year 2019; it paid half of this amount in November.

as well as an additional $559,000 in property taxes on tax-exempt property over the past year.

In addition to Northeastern’s PILOT contributions, the university has demonstrated its longstanding commitment to the city and the neighborhoods surrounding campus in myriad ways.

Each year, Northeastern contributes $13.5 million to provide 150 Boston residents with full scholarships, while also hosting programs that help ready Boston Public Schools students and their families for college.

The university also runs several education programs to help prepare local youth for college. One such program is Foundation Year, a rigorous first-year, full-time college program through which Boston students can prepare for college and receive credit to put toward two- and four-year degree programs.

Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

Program applicants from neighborhoods surrounding Northeastern’s Boston campus receive priority in the admissions process. A program for middle and high school students, the Youth Development Initiative Project, supports academic achievement and college success by providing classroom instruction, after-school and weekend tutoring, and mentoring, among other services.

Northeastern students spent more than 280,000 hours working in the community in partnership with local organizations and nonprofits through the university’s Center of Community Service during the 2016-17 academic year—a volunteer effort that contributed an estimated $8 million of in-kind support.

Each semester, students also work on co-op as constituent advocates for Boston 311, the city’s 24-hour community hotline. On these co-ops—which Northeastern funds at an annual cost of $258,000—students field inquiries from residents calling to get a pothole fixed, say, or request graffiti removal, while also helping to guide them through snowstorms and blackouts.

Northeastern also supports local businesses and works to strengthen ties between the community and the university. In 2016, Northeastern launched the first university-supported loan program for small businesses owned by women and minorities.

The Impact Lending program—to which Northeastern committed $2.5 million in seed funding—enables local entrepreneurs to secure loans, at below-market interest rates, to acquire crucial resources to expand their small businesses.

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