Yarmouth is moving forward with plans to design and build a waterfront park, boardwalk loop and event space on the site of the former Yarmouth Drive-in on Route 28.
Construction of the park could begin as early as spring 2023, according to preliminary estimates.
City staff are considering a destination recreation center that will revitalize the Route 28 trade corridor between West and South Yarmouth, a bustling stretch of road dotted with mini golf courses, hotels and restaurants.
“Yarmouth has a lot of larger recreation areas, but they’re a bit further out, not really in the heart of Route 28,” said town planner Kathy Williams. “One of the things we really thought about was how we can energize Route 28 and have a destination location, keeping the recreational purpose of the property in mind.”
Selectmen recently awarded a $ 662,000 contract to engineering consultant BETA Group, for the final design of the waterfront park, boardwalk loop and event space.
The BETA group will also guide the project through permits and construction tenders, Williams said.
What will Yarmouth Waterfront Park look like?
According to preliminary designs, the park entrance would lead visitors from Highway 28 to the property via a landscaped access road that would end in a parking lot bordering what is now an open field.
Next to the parking lot is a park overlooking the Parkers River that would include restrooms, a lawn, walking trails, a kayak launch ramp, and other amenities.
A walk loop at the end, modeled after the hugely popular Bass Hole Walk in Yarmouthport, would take visitors into the Salt Marsh.
“It would be a bit wider (than the Bass Hole Boardwalk),” Williams said. “It would be six feet wide so people could pass each other, and then there would be different perspectives where people could stop and stop and see the wildlife and the marshes.”
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Officials have scrapped a plan to connect the park to Seagull Beach via a boardwalk after opposition from neighbors, who said the route would disrupt their sight and privacy, according to Williams. The most recent boardwalk plan maintains the loop directly in front of the property from the drive-in.
The event space has yet to be designed, although Williams said city staff considered the need for electrical hookups, lighting and Wi-Fi access. A conceptual design of the space The event, currently underway, will be presented to the public, the city’s driving site use committee, and the board of directors for comment before the consultant produces more detailed designs.
The site will also have a pumping station for wastewater due to its low point location along Route 28, as well as an existing upweller for shellfish culture.
How did the Riverwalk project get to this point?
The city purchased the property for recreational purposes in 1985 and the deal was finalized in 1986, according to Williams.
Used for a carnival, circus, or the occasional concert, the site then went almost vacant for decades.
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Yarmouth considered building a marina there, but abandoned the idea because it would have been too expensive, according to Williams.
“In 2013, they did a feasibility analysis to see how much it would cost compared to the revenue that could be generated and it turned out that it was really not profitable,” she said.
In 2015, the city chartered the Drive-In Site Use Committee, which concluded after gathering public feedback that the best use would be a waterfront park, boardwalk loop, and event space. The concept was then reviewed by the committee, city staff and the BETA group, who submitted a feasibility study for the project in 2018.
City staff were working on finance and design when the coronavirus hit.
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Last summer, amid the uncertainty of the pandemic, hand-picked men helped transform the site into what has become a hugely popular outdoor entertainment venue that has hosted nationally renowned musicians and comedians. .
The venue has been a lifeline for struggling local businesses for an unprecedented few months, but neighbors were unhappy with the noise coming from the property. This year, citing both land use restrictions and neighborhood complaints, the city is accepting applications from event planners interested in hosting one-off events on the property.
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How is the Yarmouth Riverwalk project funded?
The total cost of the project is estimated at $ 7.6 million, said Williams, whose city has already secured $ 6 million.
Sources of funding include large grants, including a $ 1 million state innovation grant from the Seaport Economic Council and a $ 956,000 federal grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The money will also come from municipal meeting appropriations, Community Preservation Act funding, the city’s Tourism Revenue Preservation Fund and other municipal sources.
City staff will now begin to fundraise for the rest. Williams said officials had not discussed the loan to close the gap.
“We will continue during design to look at different grants,” she said.
What’s next for the Riverwalk project?
The BETA group will prepare a more detailed design of the waterfront park and the boardwalk loop, while also creating a preliminary design of the event space, which was not part of the 2018 study.
The BETA group will also produce a new cost estimate.
City staff will also develop a business plan that will likely include guidelines on what type of events can take place there and how often, Williams said.
“Obviously, the event space and how often we have events is always an ongoing discussion with the neighbors,” she said.
Along the way, BETA Group will also share designs and cost estimates with the Drive-In site usage committee and board of directors, Williams said.
Contact Jeannette Hinkle at [email protected]