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City Council subcommittee approves $1.3M appropriation for new Malden River boathouse

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By Neil Zolot


EVERETT – The City Council Ways & Means Subcommittee recommended approval of a $1.3 million appropriation to build a boathouse on the Malden River at Rivergreen Park, at their meeting on Monday, September 25. The matter will come before the full City Council Tuesday, October 10 – delayed from the usual Monday meeting day due to the Columbus/Indigenous People’s Day holiday. “We prioritized projects we could do in the near term,” Conservation Agent Tom Philbin said. “We’d [like] to get the boathouse built next year. Our design is 85% done, but we need to acquire the land.”

According to Philbin, the land belongs to Wynn Associates, owner of the Encore Casino. They bought land in the area to swap open land back to the city to compensate for land used for the casino. Not all the land is being returned, however, and there are as yet unformulated plans on how it will be used.

Philbin is hopeful. “We’re in negotiations now, but they’ve allowed us to do everything we wanted on the property,” he said.

That includes waterfront facilities that allow the High School rowing team to compete and practice locally for the first time in years, including a ramp to launch shells completed two years ago. A boathouse would include lockers and other facilities.

Philbin said the project is a priority for Mayor Carlo DeMaria, who envisions part of the area as the site of a new Everett High School. “We’d love to have a new High School there; it gives you a campus,” Philbin feels. “This could be the beginning of that.”

The area would also serve as an educational tool for biology and environmental studies. Philbin called it “a perfect area.”

Everett will be partnering with the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School (MVRCS) in Malden, Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston and the nonprofit Living Root dragon boat company.

“MVRCS currently has 295 of its 1,600 students that reside in Everett. Several years ago, we began working with Everett to discuss launching a Crew Co Op program,” MVRCS Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Rick Veilleux wrote the Council. “During those discussions, we were informed about the plans discussed above and indicated our interest in partnering to make this happen. We began developing plans with Tom Philbin who has done a great job under the Mayor’s direction to launch a CO Op Crew Program to serve as a catalyst for opening up access to the Malden River. We believe that a new boathouse will significantly impact the future of our Crew Co Op program by providing a state-of-the-art facility complete with publicly accessible bathrooms, changing rooms, and exercise space which could also be utilized as community space when not being used by crew program and provide other residents of the city to have recreational access to the river. Tom led the way in developing and getting approvals required that led to the clearing of the site and the procurement of a dock system. For our part, we invested around $85,000 in crew equipment, coach boat launch, temporary storage containers, property maintenance and coaches and look forward to continuing our partnership by providing future investments to construct a new boathouse.”

“These funds are critical to ongoing efforts to create recreational and education opportunities for the residents,” Living Root Dragon Boat President Helen Quach wrote to the Council about the appropriation request. “The funds are being requested to build a public boathouse that will benefit generations to come, promote physical health and overall wellbeing of people who live in Everett and the surrounding communities.

“In just five years, more of the waterfront has been open to the public, including a living shoreline, walking paths, a new canoe and kayak launch, a new crew dock and storage facility and wetlands that highlight historic natural features.

“As a non-profit organization, Living Root Dragon Boat is one of the entities that rely on public space. With reconstruction of greenspace and waterfront access in Everett, it was possible for my team and the community to have access to paddling a dragon boat.”

Mystic River Watershed Association Executive Director Patrick Herron also wrote a letter of support.

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