By Barbara Taormina
State regulators gave the Malden River Greenway project a boost last week with a decision that requires National Grid to build and maintain a public walkway along the city’s riverfront.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), which oversees the state’s shorelines and waterways, announced it will reauthorize and update National Grid’s Chapter 91 waterways license for the company’s facilities along the Malden River. But as part of that license, National Grid will be required to build a 10-foot wide public riverfront pathway that starts at Medford Street and connects either with the Northern Strand Community Trial at the southern edge of the company’s property or with Park L in Everett.
“The City of Malden is working with the National Park Service, the Friends of the Malden River, the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA), Malden Arts and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council to bring an arts, culture and climate resiliency initiative to the Malden River,” said Ward 4 Councillor Ryan O’Malley, who serves as an advisor on the Malden Greenways initiative.
“This initiative was kickstarted when MyRWA conducted a visioning process to create 22 miles of waterfront parks and greenways that will eventually connect Malden to the Mystic Lakes in Winchester,” added O’Malley.
MassDEP’s decision requires National Grid to build a public pathway that is a minimum of 10 feet wide that includes benches, lighting, overlooks and interpretative and directional signage. The company has 12 months to submit a pathway plan that will be developed with input from Malden, Medford, Everett and MyRWA. The company must also hold two meetings to give the public a chance to comment on the project’s design.
Once the pathway plan is approved, National Grid will have two years to complete the project. The company will be responsible for routine landscaping and maintenance of the pathway, which is meant to be open to the public 24 hours a day throughout the year.
O’Malley called MassDEP’s decision a huge step in the right direction toward achieving the vision of a Malden River Greenway. “Malden is also poised to receive multiple technical assistance grants from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the National Park Service to make the Malden River Greenway a reality,” he said.