April 24th, 2014 10:18 AM
This is a cut and paste from the Patriot Ledger. Congrats to Bill Boles.
The Patriot Ledger
Posted Apr. 24, 2014 @ 5:00 am
Come this summer, Bill Boles will no longer have to pick up his bicycle and squeeze through a hole in the chain-link fence to continue his ride on the Whitney Spur Rail Trail into Wompatuck State Park.
The chained and padlocked gate will soon be gone, opening up miles of trails in the state park to countless hikers, bikers and commuters from Hingham, Cohasset and beyond.
“We’ve been advocating for this ever since they finished the bike path seven years ago, and we reached out directly to Sen. (Robert) Hedlund, local reps and people higher up at DCR, and the band finally broke,” said Boles, president of the Friends of Wompatuck State Park. “We’re really happy.”
The Department of Conservation and Recreation announced Wednesday that the $305,000 needed to demolish 13 former industrial buildings within the Hingham park is available, allowing the state to restore access into the park from the trail.
The 11/2-mile path from Cohasset train station on Route 3A to the doorstep of Wompatuck State Park was built in 2007 as part of land deal between the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, which owns the land, and the MBTA, which needed a piece of it to revive the Greenbush commuter rail line.
The path was billed as a way for bicyclists from across eastern Massachusetts to access the South Shore’s largest state park using the commuter line. But before the path even opened, the state erected a fence to keep the public out of a restricted section containing crumbling buildings dating back to when the woods were home to a naval ammunition depot.
Several buildings that had been used to assemble munitions for the Navy were left standing when the depot site, located on 124 acres off Leavitt Street, was added to the park in 2004.
All hazardous materials were removed from the 13 buildings, along with most of the doors, windows and roofs, but the rest remained because of safety concerns.
Funding for the demolition project will come from DCR’s deferred maintenance and environmental remediation budget. McConnell Enterprises of Essex will complete the work, which is expected to begin in May and take 60 days.
Hedlund, a Weymouth Republican and avid user of the park, said the section has been fenced off and closed since 1995. The state made some progress in demolishing buildings early on, as the National Guard knocked them down for training and Hingham used the debris to cap its landfill.
“But then some of the buildings were so thick because of the concrete used, so we hit a roadblock there, and there was contamination in the ground,” Hedlund said. “Since the late 1990s or early 2000s, it’s been at a standstill, so they build expensive mitigation for an expensive train project, and you can’t even utilize it.”
After years of seeing cut locks and fences, Hedlund said he’s happy to finally see a resolution on the horizon other than the “civil disobedience approach.”
“People are getting bored with the existing trails, and it’s beautiful land to open up some acreage,” he said.
Reach Jessica Trufant at firstname.lastname@example.org.