Town schedules hearing for next Thursday night to get public comment on Saugus River waterfront project
Do you have any ideas on how the Saugus River waterfront could be improved to become a greater asset for the community – from a standpoint of tourism, recreation and economic development? If you’re a resident, a business owner or a town official who has some views you want to share, Town Manager Scott C. Crabtree said he, the Planning and Development Department and the Town Manager’s Economic Development Committee want to hear them.
Crabtree has scheduled a public hearing on the progress of the Saugus RiverWalk project for next Thursday (Dec. 15) at 6:30 p.m. at the Fox Hill Yacht Club. “We hope that those who are interested will join us to discuss the latest developments in this exciting project, which is a vision for the future of the town of Saugus,” Crabtree said in a statement this week.
The RiverWalk project, which encourages mixed-use development along the harbor, serves as a way to encourage visitors to the Saugus River waterfront and boost the Town’s economic growth. The project aims to provide direct waterside access, as well as to pinpoint locations for future access upon build-out under the zoning overlay. It will also provide a safe pedestrian crossing to the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s restoration of the Rumney Marsh.
The “vision” that Crabtree and other local officials rave about is fueled by a $120,000 grant that the Seaport Economic Council (SEC) awarded Saugus last year to fund planning and design for the future RiverWalk. It initially developed during a series of resident visioning sessions in 2013. Crabtree said he hopes the process will usher in a new era for the historic Saugus River waterfront and the lobstermen based there.
Last month John McAllister of engineering firm APEX Companies, LLC led officials on a tour of the proposed RiverWalk site. Next week McAllister will lead the discussion on the project’s progress.
The town hired the New Bedford-based consulting firm last spring to conduct a feasibility study and develop a preliminary conceptual plan. That first phase study is nearly complete and its findings will be presented to the public at next week’s meeting.
The first phase of the RiverWalk project will cover about a third of a mile, from the site of the future Belden Bly Bridge to Tom’s Bait & Tackle on Ballard Street, according to McAllister. He said it would take at least a year to complete the design phase of the project and obtain the required permits.
“The basic plan is to bring in more people and support the lobstering community,” McAllister said in an interview after last month’s walk.
“It involves tourism and recreation, people coming here in boats or renting boats here to go out on the river. It’s people coming here to visit from other communities, with this being a regional destination,” he said.
In an interview later, Crabtree said he would personally like to see “a nice seafood and lobster restaurant in this area.”
“The vision is really to attract some vibrant commercial, residential and recreational development for the community and residents of Saugus … It’s really about identifying what the community doesn’t want and attracting what fits into that vision,” Crabtree said.
Crabtree has urged anyone who has questions about the project or upcoming hearing to contact the Planning and Development Office at 781-231-4044.