By Seth Daniel, Charlestown Patriot-Bridge
Siblings Tom and Sharon Dow have looked at the Mystic River from their home for their entire lives.
Three generations of their family have lived in Charlestown before them and also looked out on the River. Yet the one thing they had in common was that they could never get to the Mystic River to enjoy it.
Rarely, in fact, did they ever think about it.
Last Thursday, June 14, marked a moment when the two said they felt it was time for that to end, that they would like to be the generation that sees Mystic River access returned to the people of the Town.
“I used to take sailing lessons for a little bit when I was a kid down here, but then the boat got torched and that was that,” said Tom Dow with a laugh. “That was the last time I was down here. I played Little League at the Neck, but that’s about it. It’s not very inviting or neighborhood-ish. I’d like to see it opened up all the way from Schrafft’s to the Tobin Bridge.”
Added Sharon Dow, “I like the HarborWalk here, but it just ends. The waterfront isn’t open. You have the Moran Terminal taking it up. It’s always been like this secret and something we can’t have.”
Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) hopes to be able to change that situation as they embark on a visioning plan for the Lower Mystic River – which kicked off last Thursday on the docks behind the Schrafft’s Center. Scores of residents came down to register their preferences and dreams for the study area – which goes from Ryan Field to the Mystic/Tobin Bridge.
Amber Christoffersen of MyRWA said the turnout showed how important the issue is in Charlestown.
“I think the evening certainly proved our theory that the Lower Mystic River is hidden and undiscovered and people don’t know the public access points,” she said. “At least 60 percent had never been to the docks and most live within a half-mile from the Schraffts. The Schraffts is a very attractive building with great amenities, but the parking lot is an impediment to those great amenities. What we took from that kick-off is there is a real desire of people to get access to the River. There was a great sense of community there too… and that’s important for consensus building as we move ahead.”
Christoffersen said they will be taking next steps with the study, which is funded by the Barr Foundation, and will announce those steps soon.
At the gathering, State Rep. Dan Ryan and Councilor Lydia Edwards were present and spoke about their desire to revisit access to the Mystic River.
Charlestown resident Devin Quirk said he is getting involved because he would like to see his kids be able to use the Mystic River as they grow up.
“I think we’d really like to see this open up for these kids,” he said, as his children danced to the sounds of violin music by the Boston Latin Jazz duo.
He said he hopes that one day there’s a HarborWalk that runs the entire length of the River and also connects with Assembly Row.
Added Tom Dow, “I look at Assembly Row right there, but I can’t get to it without getting in a car and sitting in traffic at Sullivan Square. It’s right there, but it’s like, ‘That’s not for you.’ We’re cut off from these things.”