Bea’s Riverfront Land

I have recently announced that Methuen would begin the process of improving the so called Bea’s site without the addition of a full boat ramp. This gateway site along the river has provoked much discussion, with people advocating for passive recreation, as well as for some utilization of the great river access.
Methuen received a state grant for $250,000 to improve the site, and in the hopes of building community consensus I appointed City Councilor Deborah Quinn to chair a committee charged with taking community input on potential uses for the site. I had also begun speaking with the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Division, who were eager to place a boating facility at this site. We had reached a point where Councilor Quinn’s Committee had finished its deliberations, and my efforts with the State required a decision. I made the decision to not pursue a boat ramp on the basis of two critical points that I could not reconcile. The first was financial. The $250,000 grant would not cover the costs of the full boat ramp, and it was not clear to me where that incremental financing would come from. There was some potential, but public facilities decisions need to be made on more than potential. The second problem was permitting. A boat ramp would need to be federally permitted, with such a process potentially taking 12 to 18 months. That time frame, with no guaranteed result, would likely leave the site in the same state it is in now, while the City sat on the previously mentioned $250,000. That did not seem feasible to me. We have begun the process of preparing to take the steps to improve the site, and such improvements could contain a lighter boating component, such as a canoe or kayak launch. As soon as these options are priced we will begin the formal process. I realize that many boating proponents may be disappointed, but the reality is that Methuen’s decision in this case is driven by the financial and regulatory facts on the ground.

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