The Walker Street Park prospects may not be so promising after all.
As previously reported here, the Beacon Ridge Improvement Community (BRIC) applied for a grant through the Parks and Green Spaces Levy Opportunity Fund, to turn a block at 17th Avenue South and South Walker Street into a neighborhood “pocket park” and orchard. There is only one house on the block, owned by Joseph Fasano and his wife.
The Fasano family, however, is not interested in selling. A letter sent by Joseph Fasano’s son Mark Fasano to BRIC and to the Beacon Hill Blog on Monday states flatly: “The property is not currently for sale nor do you have any permission to begin moving forward on any project regarding this property. Our family has occupied this property for over 71 years and plan to continue residing at this property for generations to come.” The letter also says that the family has obtained legal representation, and asks that all submissions and funding requests for the project be retracted immediately.
Mark Fasano tells us that the family’s roots on Beacon Hill are very deep, and the Walker Street property has starred in a lot of memories. “I grew up in the house and on this property, so all of my childhood memories revolved around the house and playing in the woods along with my two brothers. My oldest brother lives on the other side of the cul-de-sac. My father has lived there since he was four, so all of his childhood is there as well. The home has always been the gathering place for all holidays and family functions.” The Fasanos want to keep the property in family hands.
According to Fasano, the owners were never formally contacted to discuss the sale of the property. “My father was out walking when a neighbor stopped to talk, and in that conversation among other topics he said ‘You should put a park here. What do you think about that idea?’ My father replied in jest, as he thought he was joking, ‘that would be interesting but I don’t think my wife would approve.’ He was just talking to a neighbor having small talk conversations. He never in a million years thought he was trying to get information to get something started like this.” The family did not find out about the project, says Fasano, until a friend emailed to tell them about the May 28 post in the BHB.
If the Fasanos aren’t interested in selling, the Walker Street park is not likely to happen. The park proposal acknowledges that the property is owned by Joseph Fasano, and that acquisition would depend on agreement with the owner; if the owner does not want to sell, the property is unavailable for the project.
This may change the fortunes of the Beacon Hill Central Park project, which was scored highly in the Opportunity Fund project assessment process, but was ranked lower than the Walker Street Park proposal.
(We contacted BRIC for comments on the situation but were unable to get a response in time for this story. We hope to have a follow-up with more information soon.)