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Riverwalk Along Watson Park Targeted for This Summer

The walking path will connect to Smith Beach in Braintree.

Riverwalk Along Watson Park Targeted for This Summer

Final funding approval for a Monatiquot Riverwalk project will likely come within the next few weeks, allowing the town to begin work on improving and expanding the trail system at Watson Park from Gordon Road near the tennis courts to the Toland Walkway connecting to Smith Beach.

The approximately $21,000 project was designed with the help of the National Park Service, which provided Braintree a grant in 2011 for free technical assistance. It involves fashioning a crushed stone path passing by the ballfields, the wildflower meadow, along the river and the site of the future splash pad.

New benches will be installed and shrubs planted, and kiosks will dot the pathway, featuring information on local history and habitat, Planning Director Christine Stickney told members of the Committee on Ways & Means last week.

"The neighborhood and the association supports this," East Braintree Civic Association Chair David Oliva said.

The committee unanimously recommended funding the project by way of the Community Preservation Act. Stickney said the Community Preservation Committee and Conservation Commission already voted in favor. The last step is approval by the full Town Council.

Originally, the project was expected to cost $40,000, Stickney said, but an agreement worked out with the Department of Public Works means most of the labor can be done with town resources. She said construction should begin in the spring and be complete this summer.

Also scheduled to arrive at Watson Park this summer is a splash pad funded out of the donation Capt. August Julius Petersen gave to Braintree when he died 50 years ago.

Watson Park neighborhood resident Andrew Buttaro has challenged the town's right to build the $250,000 pad, arguing that the park is protected under the Wetlands Protection Act as a Riverfront Area, Wetlands, and a flood plain.

However, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has approved the project. Construction will likely begin in April and be finished by July, Mayor Joseph Sullivan said earlier this year.

Nearby, a town-owned piece of land on Allen Street formerly used by the Braintree Electric Light Department could also see improvements soon.

Fifteen firms took out paperwork on the project and two returned potential development plans, Stickney said. A committee is reviewing the proposals and a recommendation could land before the mayor this week.

Community goals for the site, as laid out in a November 2010 report, include showcasing the river, providing public access and parking, utilizing existing buildings as possible, maintaining views for Allen Street abutters and creating a quiet, beautiful space that can be an asset for the neighborhood.

A future project could involve the expansion of the riverwalk over the water and connecting with the Allen Street development, Stickney said.

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