WEST NEWBURY — A proposal to construct a new boat launch and fishing pier near the Rocks Village Bridge hit a snag when members of the local garden club objected because it would mean altering a spot they view as a gateway into West Newbury.
The Open Space Committee recently voted to place a plan for redevelopment of the Ferry Lane triangle on a warrant for a Special Town Meeting next month, chairman Steve Greason told selectmen last week. The town-owned triangle is located between Church and Bridge streets near the Merrimack River.
But at the same meeting two representatives of the garden club spoke against the plan as it is currently configured because it calls for moving an existing “Welcome to West Newbury” sign and surrounding prized peony bushes located on the tip of the triangle in order to make room for a paved parking lot to accommodate the new boating facilities.
Greason stressed that preserving and enhancing access to the Merrimack River for public use is a stated goal of the town’s Open Space and Recreation Plan. So his committee was pleased to learn the state has targeted revenues raised from a new saltwater fishing license program toward the same goal.
With the existing boat launch and surrounding area in poor condition, West Newbury is primed to tap some of these funds and transform the area into a beautiful park, the chairman said, noting that the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game has identified the OSC’s new “Ferry Landing Park” as a “high priority” project.
After meeting with Jack Sheppard of Fish and Game, the OSC developed plans to construct the new boating and fishing facilities on a half-acre of state-owned shoreline along Church Street. Included in the redevelopment plan would be the permanent closure of a portion of Church Street and the rerouting of traffic to Bridge Street using Ferry Lane. The closed portion of Church Street — along with the tip of the town-owned triangle — would be turned into parking for the vehicles and trailers of boaters and fishermen.