SALISBURY — Saving the whales has taken on new meaning in town since a life-long Salisbury Beach enthusiast has made it his mission to rescue the old whale sculpture that’s rested for about half a century at the former miniature golf course on Beach Road.
Salisbury has been part of Jason Rivera’s life ever since the 35-year-old was born. His family has a house on Atlantic Avenue, and although Rivera lives in Newburyport, he heads down Beach Road to visit his parents and Salisbury Beach several times a week.
“I can remember the giant whale that sits in the (former) miniature golf course (once known as) Nat’s Fun Park,” Rivera said. “To me, that whale always symbolized the entry point into Salisbury Beach ... I don’t want to see it demolished with the new construction.”
The whale is located at 191 Beach Road, on land that once held Kartland, a small amusement park and miniature golf course. Although its definitely seen better days, it has a legacy of providing fun for tens of thousands of kids over the decades.
Once owned by the Goldman family, the 13-acre site that holds the whale was approved in 2007 for a 210-unit residential housing development. Sold twice since then — first to Federated Companies — the current owner is a Portsmouth, N.H., company that purchased the property from Federated for $2.5 million in late December 2012. Incorporated as 191 Beach Realty, LLC, the nature of the business of the company was listed as “Apartment Complex.”
The 2007 plan called for a seven-building complex, arranged in an oval around the site, including a clubhouse and pool. The garden-style condo or apartment buildings would have parking on the ground floor, with housing above, plus additional spaces in the parking lot to service the 66 one-bedroom and 144 bedroom units.