ROCKPORT — Two private citizens plan to alter the city-owned headlands area to make it more accessible to everyone.
In 2019, summer resident Jerry Housman offered the city $50,000 to improve the somewhat wilderness natural area. That same year, the Board of Selectmen approved that Housman could use his money to plan his proposed improvements.
The funds are held by the Essex County Community Foundation and controlled by Houseman and Rockport resident Wally Hess.
David Warner of Warner Larson Landscape Architects in Boston was hired as the landscape architect for the project. Earlier this month, Hess presented Warner-drafted plans to the DPW board of commissioners for the proposed project.
The first phase would implement accessible parking options, resurface some of the trails with crushed stone, eliminate overgrowth up to 15 feet from the trails, connect the two trails that branch off from Atlantic Avenue, and install new traffic signs. entrance and parking.
In the long term, the group hopes to install a small boardwalk on the rocks for all to enjoy the ocean view and some picnic benches near the center of the grounds.
Hess said he believed work could begin without “regulatory approvals or a budget” because all funds would be provided by Houseman. The DPW board of commissioners disagreed and said the public should give their opinion on the project before work begins. At the time of publication, no public hearing is scheduled on this matter.
“We just plan to make it easier to get to and to make the paths leading to it more interesting and beautiful,” Hess said in a Facebook comment. “I don’t think anyone likes the fact that catbrier took over a lot of the trail area and a lot of the summit… No city department is responsible for maintaining the headlands. A quarter of Rockport’s population is over 72 and finds it difficult, if not impossible, to walk here. We want it to be available to everyone.
Michael Cronin can be reached at 978-675-2708, or [email protected]