By Seth Daniel
State Sen. Sal DiDomenico and two other nearby legislators have signed on to a letter calling for Martin Suuberg, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), to require National Grid to design and build a walking path on its property abutting the Malden River.
The letter, dated Jan. 9, came on the heels of the close of public comments on the matter, which has been open for months and will close on Jan. 31.
“We urge MassDEP to require that National Grid commit to designing and building a public access path along the entirety of their waterfront property as part of their application submittal,” read the letter from DiDomenico, Sen. Jason Lewis and State Rep. Steve Ultrino.
The National Grid property is the key link that is still up in the air as part of the ambitious Malden River Greenway plan that was finalized last summer. The plan calls for a series of uninterrupted walking paths along the Malden River on both sides of the waterway – incorporating public and private property in Everett, Medford and Malden. While many property owners have stepped up to commit to building a pathway, National Grid has been a bit wishy-washy on their commitment. Originally, they opposed allowing the path due to public safety and security concerns. However, as part of a Chapter 91 state waterways license, they have re-thought the opposition.
The key point came in November 2016, when a public hearing was held on National Grid’s Chapter 91 application. Since that time, the company has had many extensions on their application, with little news of a commitment.
The letter pointed out that sites to the north and south (which will be Everett’s new RiverGreen pathway at the old GE Site) have or will have paths. National Grid would disrupt the continuity of the path system is allowed not to build a path for the public, the letter stated.
“We strongly urge DEP to require National Grid to design and build this proposed path as part of their public access proposal for their Chapter 91 license,” read the letter. “A seamless Greenway would serve tens of thousands of residents in Everett, Malden and Medford, including several environmental justice communities. Restoring full public access to the Malden River, and creating a community asset for recreation and active transportation, would help to reserve some of the inequity that these residents have faced for decades.
“National Grid has an obligation to do this, as well as an opportunity to lead,” concluded the letter.”
The comment period closing is on Jan. 31, and a decision by Suuberg on the license could come as soon as the spring.