Community Input Sought for Waterfront Open Space Plan

By Joseph Domelowicz Jr.

The city of Lynn will be asking residents to weigh in over the next several weeks on a Waterfront Open Space Master Plan, that is expected to help the city communicate what it wants in terms of waterfront recreational space, even as the city seeks to attract and incentivize mixed-use, multi-family development along the Lynn harbor.

That is the message delivered to the City Council’s Economic and Workforce Committee by Lynn Economic Development and Industrial Council (EDIC) Director James Cowdell on Tuesday night.

“In our lifetime, the city has never enjoyed that part of our harbor,” explained Cowdell of the impetus behind the plan. “The state is a partner with us in redeveloping the waterfront, they hear us when we say we want mixed-use development there, but then they also want to know what kind of public access are we providing to the waterfront, to the harbor and what does that look like.”

Cowdell took a few moments at the beginning of the meeting to recount the extensive planning that has gone in to creating the vision and plan for re-development along the waterside of Route 1A (the Lynnway). He noted that the city has undertaken re-zoning of the land along that side of the Lynnway and has also already completed a harbor plan and chapter 91 licensing for the waterfront sites. The missing piece in the puzzle is the creation of public spaces and amenities within that new development.

The first of what will be four public meetings or forums on the Lynn Waterfront Open Space Master Plan will be held on Tuesday, May 2 beginning at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, on the fourth floor of City Hall.

Cowdell said after the meeting that the plan will be complete and ready for review around July 1, 2017, so the four meetings will be held throughout a six to eight week timeframe.

“We want to give as many people as possible the opportunity to be heard about what their ideas for the public spaces should look like,” said Cowdell, after the meeting.

Cowdell noted that even existing public spaces, like the state controlled  Heritage State Park, can be discussed, as the state is hoping to get ideas from residents about programming and amenities at Heritage State Park, so that it incorporate those into the state’s plans as well.

In total there is more than 300 acres of land along the waterfront from the North Harbor (formerly Beacon Chevrolet) site to property owned by businessman Joseph O’Donnell at the south end on the mouth of the Saugus River, which can be considered for waterfront amenity. However, the city hopes that most of that space will be redeveloped for mixed use residential and commercial uses.

Following the discussion about the waterfront open space plan, Cowdell also noted that the previously permitted North Harbor site, which will bring more than 330 units of new housing to the site, has finally cleared environmental permitting hurdles and could break ground as soon as October of this year.

“That project has already committed to building boardwalk from the North Harbor property all the way down to the ferry pier, which is a good start to the public access and amenity there,” added Cowdell.

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