The Everett RiverWalk on the former GE site is about to be open to the public, with the first phase of the project in the final stages of completion, and the larger Phase 2 construction about to begin.
The projects are being funded and completed by Encore Boston Harbor as park replacement for Lynde Park and as an added community amenity for the casino project. The GE site land was contaminated and unusable for a generation before Wynn Resorts cleaned it up and began construction of the open space there last year.
Kim Ripley of Encore said the Phase 1 RiverWalk – which winds from the Boston Coach parking lot on Air Force Road to the shores of the Malden River – could be open to the public any day.
“Right now we are pretty close to substantial completion on construction of the RiverWalk South,” she said. “We are waiting on final approvals from GE to open up the RiverWalk South project to the public. We’re expecting that approval in the next 60 days.”
Ripley said she is very excited to open the first phase of the project so that it will become a place the public can go to for respite.
“I think we’ve turned a site into a public amenity that includes a path for bicycling and pedestrians,” she said. “It opens up the riverfront to the community and opens up views of the river. We’ve tried to place benches where people can see the river so they might pause, sit down and listen to the birds and the wind in the trees.”
Mayor Carlo DeMaria said he was excited to hear of the near-completion of the RiverWalk.
“Today, a restored waterfront is becoming a reality with the completion of Phase 1 of the RiverWalk,” he said. “The waterfront park along the Malden River Greenway will become a tremendous asset for everyone to enjoy for years to come and I am looking forward to the ribbon cutting shortly. It will be one of the largest open spaces in the Greater Boston Region, offering new walking trails, access to the Malden River and Northern Strand Community Trail, and future re-development opportunities nearby.”
That portion of the project cost $1.75 million and is nearly complete.
Meanwhile, Zoya Puri of Encore said they are preparing to choose a contractor to start work on the RiverGreen Playground and RiverWalk North projects.
“We are right now in the process of finalizing contractors and we hope to start construction in mid-July,” she said this week. “Our hope is to have the new path done by the end of the year. The park won’t be done though until next year after we come back in to finish planting the landscaping. The park has significant plantings and we can’t plan after November. So, we’ll come back and do that in the spring. The RiverGreen park should be fully open to the public by next spring after we do all the plantings.”
That part of the project is much larger, including a new turf playing field with lights for football, soccer or lacrosse. Other amenities include relocating the street hockey rink now on Air Force Road, a new playground area, a splash pad and a picnic area with gazebo in the center.
The project will also include the RiverWalk North, which will form a complete loop back to the Northern Strand Community Trail.
Puri said they have also included lighting in the playground area, hoping that it will promote families and children playing there after dark.
She also said it is exciting to work on a project that is opening up an area that was barred off from the public for so long.
“The site around the River is very well done,” she said. “Having RiverGreen become a new public amenity will activate the river from all directions. It will certainly add to the connectivity of the region.”
The RiverWalk South includes a paved pathway that leads from Boston Coach behind the new Boston Freightliner building and to a gazebo overlooking the Malden River.
Several new trees and grass have been planted, and some older trees have been saved as well. The area includes parking and custom benches – as well as signage about the history of the site’s development.