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Good, bad news for area parks at Neponset Greenway Council meeting

Posted by Patrick Rosso  April 4, 2013 05:48 PM

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Members of the Neponset Greenway Council gathered in Mattapan Wednesday night to hearupdates from the Department of Conservation and Recreation on the progress of projects in Dorchester and Mattapan.

Jack Murray, the deputy commissioner of DCR, told advocates about projects including the Neponset River Greenway Trail, renovations to Ryan Playground in Mattapan, the demolition of the trail house in Mattapan Square, and a report about contamination at the Shaffer Paper site in Dorchester.

Although Murray didn’t have good news on every project, progress is being made on some.

The more than $650,000 worth of improvements to Ryan Playground, which include a new wading pool, the installation of a spray deck and park amenities, and the revamping of mechanical systems and existing infrastructure, are for the most part on time.

Murray said DCR is aiming for a May 31st unveiling of the work.

In Mattapan Square, the planning for the eventual demolition and reconstruction of a trail house is also progressing.

The structure, located adjacent to the Mattapan Square MBTA Station, was acquired by DCR in November of 2010 and will eventually be the neighborhood’s gateway to the Neponset River Greenway.

Murray said he hopes to have a meeting with the community about the project in late-April.

Members of the council from Dorchester were eager to hear updates on the Shaffer Paper site, a hazardous site owned by DCR that has sat neglected in the Port Norfolk neighborhood for nearly 30 years.

“We think what’s sitting there is a real hazard,” said Mary McCarthy, president of the Port Norfolk Neighborhood Association and member of the Neponset River Greenway Council. “The cleanup has taken too long for something that’s a hazard.”

DCR is working on a draft “Phase 4 Report,” which will outline how DCR plans to clean up the site.

Murray said DCR has been meeting internally and some of the agency’s consultants worry DCR might have to also clean up the nearby mudflats, a potentially costly job.

Another meeting is planned in the coming weeks to address how the agency plans to clean up the 15-acre former industrial site.

Members of the council from Dorchester called on DCR to schedule a meeting with the Port Norfolk Neighborhood Association to discuss the process.

The last major topic discussed Wednesday was on the missing sections of the approximately 10-mile Neponset River Greenway Trail, which stretches from Hyde Park to Dorchester. Major sections of the trail are missing in Dorchester, near the National Grid gas tank, Ryan Playground in Mattapan, and the Milton side of the river.

Murray said DCR is gearing up to complete a final $550,000 design for the Milton side of the river, but no money exists for construction of any section.

Funds could become available if Governor Deval Patrick’s transportation plan is passed.

“We have not identified construction dollars, but it’s always good to have a project shovel ready,” Murray told the council, adding the Milton design will create a “critical link” between the two neighborhoods.

“We’ve been trying to figure out, with limited resources, how to move this project forward and keep momentum,” said Murray. “[With a plan] it puts is a stronger position to make an argument for the trail.”

In the past the group has attempted to complete the trail through federal funds.

The Neponset River Greenway Council's meetings are held the first Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. For more information about the group and where it meets, click here.

Email Patrick D. Rosso, Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

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