Since the Riverwalk first opened, there has been a 100-foot long section of the trail that forms an epic puddle for many months each year, leaving most of the Riverwalk difficult to access, and inspiring trail users and fishing enthusiasts to improvise a series of balance beams from driftwood over the years.
To solve this issue, NepRWA staff and volunteers gathered at Squantum Point Park to assemble a boardwalk from April 6th to 8th. Thanks to the leadership and experience of long-time NepRWA board member Jerry Hopcroft, who has a side hobby building trail structures in Acadia National Park, we were able to assemble volunteers into small groups, each with their own task in the building effort. The building process came on the heels of a months-long environmental permitting process.
Over three days of construction, we had teams of volunteers building the frames, leveling the wooden beams that support the boardwalk, and setting the boardwalk in place piece by piece. Every day had its own set of obstacles, but volunteers and staff were able to adapt and finish with a beautiful 112-foot-long boardwalk that spans the length of the puddle, making the entire Riverwalk accessible year-round.
Hurrah for the Volunteers!
Thank you to all the volunteers who made this possible, especially our partners at EPIC, an amazing organization that prepares young people with disabilities to be actively-engaged community leaders. Our friends from EPIC helped with the build and provided some impromptu real-time ADA accessibility testing to ensure everyone can enjoy the Riverwalk!
Building on a Unique Environmental Legacy
Squantum Point and the new boardwalk are located in the Neponset River Estuary Area of Critical Environmental Concern or “ACEC.” NepRWA secured ACEC status for the Estuary many years ago in an effort to better protect the extensive salt marshes, shellfish beds, parks, archaeological sites, and fish and bird habitats that are found around the Estuary. The Neponset Estuary section of the River starts in Milton / Dorchester Lower Mills at the Baker Dam which is the farthest upstream point reached by salt water, and extends to the end of the River at Squantum Point and the painted gas tank.
Squantum Point Park where the boardwalk was built, is a unique spot renowned for its exceptional bird habitat, as well as “Buckley’s Bar” a large shellfish bed that is one of the most productive in Boston Harbor (but which still remains closed to shellfish harvesting). The park is a great spot for fishing from shore or relaxing on the small beach.