By Seth Daniel
Kicking off the re-imagining of the Malden River and the effort to create a Greenway may seem like the kind of meeting that draws a few activists and maybe a couple of die-hard outdoorsy folks.
Any notions to that effect though, were soundly rebuffed on Monday night when a standing-room only crowd packed into the Malden Library to help kick off the planning for the Malden River Greenway project – a design project that will be carried out this summer by Utile and concluded in September. Residents from Malden, Medford and Everett jammed into the room to lend their support to activating a waterway that has been ignored – even purposefully restricted – by most in all three communities.
But the times are a’changing, and the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) and the Solomon Fund – known for their work on revitalizing the Charles River Basin in Boston – joined with partners like the Friends of the Malden River and Wynn Boston Harbor to kick off the effort.
“I see a very positive future for the Malden River,” said Amber Christofferson of MyRWA.
She said they envision parks, open space, walkways, docks, canoe launches, boat launches and bridges for the Greenway.
The process will include two more public meetings, including one in Everett either in August or September. A third meeting will happen in Medford.
From now until August, Utile will be designing the Greenway and taking input from residents and municipal leaders. They have already started looking at Future Focus areas along the corridor and also started looking at ownership of parcels.
Drew Kane of Utile said one of the major challenges would be connecting the pathway on both sides of the river continuously. The problem lies in the fact that much of the land is privately owned.
“One of the biggest challenges is there are parts of the path that are not connected and has gaps,” he said. “The challenge will be to connect those disproportionate gaps…It’s going to be a process of engagement, acquisition, dividing parcels and other challenges. These are some of the challenges when it comes to the National Grid property.”
As part of the kick off, those in the audience were able to submit ideas for possible implementation. Some of the ideas included boat rides, a Fire Fall Festival as in Providence, aerating fountains, boat launches, and cleaning up the sediments in the bottom of the River.
“There are already good things happening on the Malden River,” Kane said. “There are a series of paths on the Malden River, but not all these paths are created equal. We want to create and look at all of these paths.”
A full Greenway plan by Utile is expected to be unveiled in September.