May 10, 2022 By Carol Britton Meyer
Hingham Harbor - considered to be one of the town's most valuable assets - offers many recreational opportunities for children and adults alike.
In an effort to make the experience even better for those who frequent the harborfront, the Harbor Development Committee's goal is to have a new Master Plan for Hingham Harbor completed by the 2022 Fall Town Meeting.
The purpose of this project is to thoughtfully develop a document that will provide a "cohesive and signature Hingham Harbor" and will also include programming and spaces to attract users of all ages and abilities -- one that can be developed in phases that are aligned with the town’s needs and resources.
Following the town awarding development of the Master Plan to the firm of Beals and Thomas, Inc., B&T's Senior Landscape Architect Regan Andreola will lead the project in collaboration with the HDC.
The Committee recently connected with stakeholders asking them to share their top five wishes for the harbor and what they consider to be the top three challenges, looking ahead to the next 10 years.
The HDC will also host three collaborative sessions for the larger community to identify potential ideas and possibilities that would enhance "our treasured harbor." The goal is to involve as many people as possible in the process.
Input from the community, harbor landowners and businesses, as well as municipal organizations will be critical to ensuring that the end result is inclusive of various views and priorities, HDC members say.
The stakeholders for the 2022 Master Plan for Hingham Harbor include all of the town’s residents in addition to specific constituencies that either own or are responsible for some harborfront activity.
"We are using input from those 35+ stakeholders identified by the HDC and the Bathing Beach Trustees to develop an agenda for community-wide discussions to be held on Zoom," HDC Chair Marco Boer, who is leading the development of the Master Plan, told the Hingham Anchor.
Although these public meetings are listed for specific groups, anyone who is interested in participating is welcome to attend the session that best suits his or her schedule, including members of the community.
"Each session is effectively a repeat, but hopefully with different views from each stakeholder," Boer said.
The sessions are as follows:
- Harbor-specific groups and businesses – Tuesday, May 24, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
- Municipal and local town groups – Monday, June 6, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
- Historic/veterans' groups – Monday, June 13, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
The Zoom links will be posted on the town website and in the Hingham Anchor about a week in advance of each meeting.
Boer outlined some of the ideas that have been proposed so far:
- Planning for physical structures, including a playground
- Shade cover structures and seating
- Lighting and landscaping
- Directional signage and expansion of interpretive historical signage
- Continued harbor walkway extensions
- Exercise and play areas
- Splash pad (similar to the one in Plymouth)
- Bike racks
- Exercise circuit for seniors
- Chess tables
- Town boat house for non-motorized boating activities and programming to complement Hingham Maritime Center's future boat house
- Electric vehicle charging stations
- Planning for activities and recreational opportunities
- Active and passive recreation, water- and land-based
- Cultural, musical, and social events and activities
- Open air markets
- Annual beach events
- Unified veterans' memorial area, with space for peaceful contemplation
"All the ideas that [have and] will be put forth are just that, ideas," Boer explained. "Part of the requirement of this study is to identify grant money to implement some of the ideas and to develop a consensus of the vision so that at some point in the future they can can be funded through taxpayer contributions if voted upon."
This "vision plan" is critical to ensuring that the $40-plus million that will be put into the harbor area (the Route 3A re-design and re-building of the wharves) "is going to provide our residents with the amenities, accessibility, and use of the harbor that these kinds of investments deserve," Boer said.
He also pointed out that the Harbor Master Plan will need to complement:
- The town’s 2020 Master Plan
- The 2021 Metropolitan Area Planning Council Hingham Harbor and Downtown Sustainable Vision Plan
- The Route 3A re-development plan
- The Rapid Recovery Technical Assistance Plan
- The Spring 2022 rebuilding of the town boat ramp
- The 2023-2024 rebuilding and raising of the three town wharfs: Town Pier, the area between Whitney Wharf and Veteran’s Park, and Barnes Wharf.
Others involved in this project include HDC Vice Chair William Reardon; Bathing Beach Trustee Alan Perrault; HDC members Katie Doran and Amy Cowan; and Nancy Kerber of the Hingham Maritime Center.
“As the former Chairman and current Vice-Chairman of the Harbor Development Committee, our committee worked very hard to secure funding for this update of the 2007 Master Plan for Hingham Harbor," Reardon said. "After three attempts, we are delighted with the Community Preservation Committee’s decision to award the town $60,000 for the update of this Master Plan."
Those who are interested in the project or who have ideas or questions are encouraged to attend one of the upcoming collaborative sessions on Zoom or reach out to Cowan or Doran at firstname.lastname@example.org.