If the town would donate its land for parking, the state would pay for the entire project, with West Newbury only asked to cover future maintenance costs, an amount that Greason believed to be “minimal.”
He noted that several large shade trees on the triangle would remain, creating a nice spot for picnicking. “The garden club could add landscaping, and the fishing pier, perhaps, could feature planters with an irrigation system. The Historical Commission could add a kiosk featuring photographs from long ago with a plaque honoring the late Sue Follansbee,” said Greason. Follansbee, a long-time resident and local historian, passed away last month.
The OSC chairman noted that both harbormaster Jim Riley and director Gary Bill of the Department of Public Works were supportive of the plan, which, if approved, would take two to three years to properly permit and complete.
“If it’s done right, it could be that postcard image that people have of West Newbury,” Greason said.
But the women from the garden club disagreed, arguing that having a paved parking lot as the first image greeting cars coming over the Rocks Village Bridge into West Newbury did not create the kind of beautiful, pastoral view of the town that their club works so hard to preserve.
The peonies are original to the town — hybridized and grown here, the women explained. They worried that the plants would die because well-established plants typically don’t transplant well.
“We’ve spent a lot of money … we’ve spent a lot of effort,” they told selectmen.
Greason said that, unfortunately, given regulations governing handicap accessibility and the need to accommodate for all types of boats, the variety of ways the parking lot can be oriented is limited.
Selectmen Chairman Bert Knowles Jr. recalled that “a number of years ago” the town rejected another plan for boating improvements in that area. He recommended garnering more public consensus for the project over the winter first and then bringing a plan to Town Meeting for a vote next spring.