The Belle Isle Marsh Marine Ecology Park and Marsh Walk is planned as the latest in a series of planned pedestrian access paths to connect Winthrop to its natural environment. The path is planned to run along the street from the intersection of Pleasant Street to the DCR property on Morton Street, where a new passive recreation park and lookout area will connect to a footbridge across the marsh to the Belle Isle Cemetery, and connect to the existing trail that surrounds the outside edge of the cemetery. On the northeast side of the cemetery, another trail will be built to connect the cemetery path to the John Kilmartin trail and footbridge, which leads to Short Beach in Revere.
Once completed, a walker in Winthrop will be able to walk from the intersection of Pleasant and Main Street, along sidewalks, walking paths and foot bridges to Short Beach in Revere, without ever crossing a major street. The new park on the DCR land will serve as a recreational resource, eco-tourism attraction and outdoor learning center for children and students of all ages.
The town will construct the park and new footbridge with more than $950,000 in grant funding from the Massachusetts Seaport Economic Council, and matching local funds of $250,000, for a $1.2 million construction project. The town has hired the engineering firm Green International to complete the engineering and permitting and assist with construction management of the project. Concept plans had to be developed in order to qualify for the grant funding, but those plans are now being amended with citizen/community input, as well as with the guidance of the many permit granting authorities that will review this project over the next several months.
Locally, the project is being overseen jointly by the Town Council’s Public Works Subcommittee, the Town Manager’s Office and the Public Works Department, with local permitting under the jurisdiction of the Winthrop Conservation Commission.
The town conducted the first public meeting on this project, under the Town Council’s Public Works Subcommittee on Tuesday, September 13, 2016 at 7 p.m. in the Winthrop Senior Center, where the engineers, the Town Manager’s Office and the Public Works Subcommittee provided a preview of the concept plan and invited input and suggestions from the community to better design the project. The engineers also met with the Winthrop Conservation Commission in an informal pre-submission meeting on Wednesday, September 14, 2016, also to provide a preview of the concept plan and solicit feedback and recommendations on how best to design the project.
The current schedule calls for the engineers to submit permit applications with the MEPA (Massachusetts Environmental Protection Act) office, the Winthrop Conservation Commission and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in late September and October. The permitting process is expected to take several months and the permit granting agencies will each provide an opportunity for public input and design amendments to ensure the project is completed in an environmentally conscious manner.
Please continue to check back with this page for updates on the permitting and design phases of the project or refer to the Winthrop Conservation Commission process for updates.