EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

May 23, 2013

Letter: West End residents, businesses need Bea's boat ramp

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — To the editor:

In a recent article, it was nice to read that Community Development Director William Buckley was interested in moving forward with the Merrimack River public boat ramp. This project is long overdue as a community development project for the West End. The city has spent several hundred thousand dollars on a few parking spaces downtown but has done little for community development in the West End.

Providing river access at the former Bea’s Sandwich Shop property is important to local residents and businesses. Residents will be able to enjoy water recreation, and attracting boaters and fishermen will bring more customers to Route 110 businesses.

The boating community has proven to be environmentally sensitive and does a good job self-policing our natural resources. The state Department of Fish and Game successfully oversees over 200 ramps in the state, including several on the Merrimack River in Haverhill, Lowell and Lawrence. It is time to clean up the city properties along the river and support the West End.

I am disappointed that Mayor Zanni suggested offering the land to MassDOT during the rotary construction project. He should be thinking of ways to help minimize the major disruption the rotary construction will have on Methuen businesses, not helping MassDOT. And his reasoning is flawed, as boat ramp funding comes from the state and federal environmental departments, not DOT. And why would he recommend a construction work site on the river just upstream from the city water intake and in an environmentally sensitive area?

Protecting the river environment was one of the original reasons for purchasing the property and is still sound policy. Connecting it to other city properties along the river and opening the shore to recreation would have a significant positive impact on the West End community. It is time to see some community development in the West End.

Neal Hunter