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Zip line proposal could benefit Quincy's granite compressor building

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  January 4, 2013 02:38 PM

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A proposal for a zip line facility in Quincy’s historic quarries could also soon include the renovation of a dilapidated historic building.

Brothers Al and Walter Endriunas, owners of Quarry Canopy Tours Inc., have been trying to get a zip line facility built in Quincy since June, and already received the go-ahead from the City Council to lease quarry land for that purpose.

Despite having the go-ahead from the city, the organization still needs an okay from the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, which also owns part of the land.

Since the summer, discussions have also been ongoing with numerous stakeholders in the project, including local climbing groups, the Granite Workers Museum, and Friends of the Blue Hills.

“It’s going forward, but slowly,” Al Endriunas said.

Plans already included numerous benefits to the city, including a promise to dedicate $50,000, or five percent of gross revenues, from the recreational program; giving 24 hours of volunteer service a year improving the Quincy portion of the Blue Hills; and dedicating 50 hours a year for whatever project the Quincy Parks and Recreation Department chooses.

Now, Al Endriunas hopes to make the deal a bit sweeter by raising the prospect of renovating and using the Incline Compressor Building on Mullin Street.

The Compressor Building’s lengthy history goes back from the height of Quincy’s granite operation in the 1920s, however by 1942, the compressors were removed for the war effort, and operations came to a halt.

Since then the building’s ownership has continually shifted hands, and more recently has sat in disrepair in the ownership of the Department of Conservation and Recreation.

A recent story in The Boston Globe regarding the building caught Endriunas's eye, and he sent off an email to City Councilor Brian Palmucci hoping to make some sort of arrangement over the building.

“It’s just a shame to see a building like that go into disrepair,” Endriunas said. “I know it has limited uses, given the fact that you have to access it through a residential neighborhood, but it seems something could happen there that could preserve the building.”

According to Endriunas, preserving the building would go hand in hand with being good stewards of the property, and uses could range from making it the Granite Workers Museum to administration and storage purposes for the zip line tours.

“It’s not unique to that location. A lot of properties the state/city government can’t [fix] without a public/private partnership,” he said.

How much a renovation could cost is still unknown, and how that deal may factor in with the operation of an estimated $500,000 zip line tour space is up for negotiation, Al said.

“I kind of had a knee jerk reaction. I saw the article, said it’s a shame it's going in this direction. [We should] let someone know we have some interest,” Endriunas said.

Palmucci said he has already drafted a letter to DCR requesting some sort of discussion to be initiated regarding this project.

At the very least, Palmucci said he wants a game plan for how issues with this building planned to be addressed.

“The ball will be in DCR’s court,” Palmucci said in a phone interview. “I’d be happy to broker some sort of arrangement whereby we make improvements to this site…I’d be happy to encourage them to sit down with this particular party or sit down with us and members of the community to discuss their intentions with this building. It’s unacceptable to just let it sit there and continue to deteriorate.”

The bottom line, Palmucci said, is that something needs to be done sooner rather than later.

“It’s a run down building that isn’t aging well and its not going to clean itself up, so unless we find a way to put resources towards improving it, nothing is going to change,” he said.

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