February 8, 2024 By Carol Britton Meyer
The Hingham harborfront continues to attract interest and attention, not only from boaters, rowers, walkers, and beachlovers who frequent the area, but also from citizens interested in the town’s recent acquisition of 30 Summer St. and planned improvements to make the waterfront more pedestrian-friendly and less susceptible to sea level rise.
Harbor Development Committee Chair Marco Boer shared an update about what’s currently happening at the harbor with the Hingham Anchor.
Under the Bathing Beach Trustees’ purview and Eat Well, Inc.’s management, the Beach House waterfront restaurant continues to attract many customers, resulting in a demand for more outdoor seating and trash pick-up. The Recreation Department’s trial yoga classes in the community room are also popular. The Community Bathing Beach House is managed by the Trustees.
Fireworks unlikely this year
Boer noted that the second Harbor Celebration Day held last year the weekend after Labor Day was a great success despite the rain. Looking to other popular Hingham events, he explained that while there is discussion about resuming fireworks at some point, “it’s unlikely to happen in 2024 due to fundraising challenges.”
The Master Plan specific to Hingham Harbor and complimentary to the Town’s 2020 Master Plan remains an ongoing project.
The HDC and Bathing Beach Trustees worked closely with Town Engineer JR Frey and 50 other stakeholders to create specific options, cost estimates, grant opportunities, and implementation prioritization to address a number of considerations and possibilities.
These include how to best utilize the space between Rte. 3A and the water; a playground; recreation (such as kayak lessons and storage); event space and shade structures; hardscaping/landscaping; improving access for those with disabilities; location of benches; coordination of ongoing maintenance; how to fund upkeep costs once more features and activities are added to the waterfront; and Barnes Wharf infrastructure requirements.
“Another question is what is realistic in terms of large infrastructure investments to get even greater use out of the harbor for Hingham residents,” Boer said. “Also under consideration are the kinds of programming that could be developed to make the harbor area more attractive to everyone in town and what grant money is available to implement the visions created by the harbor master plan.”
The final master plan for Hingham Harbor report is expected to be ready by late 2024.
Uses for Summer Street property under consideration
With regard to the acquisition of 30 Summer St., voters at the 2023 Town Meeting approved authorizing the town to negotiate and acquire this property — the former Gallery 360 Real Estate office near the Rte. 3A rotary. “The HDC is in process of forming its recommendations for the short-, medium-, and long-term use of this property,” Boer said.
In other harbor business, the town’s Inner Harbor wharves are now more than 80-years-old, and the wear and tear Mother Nature has taken on them has become a safety issue.
“Overtopping of the town pier by the Iron Horse Statue and Barnes Wharf during significant storms has become common and makes it clear that the town needs to build a united defense against sea-level rise to protect the downtown infrastructure and ensure sustainable use of Rte. 3A,” Boer said.
The January 2024 high-tide flooded the Town Pier and was the fourth highest tide ever recorded. Veteran’s Wharf, with walls that are four feet higher, did not experience any flooding.
There are plans to raise the level of the other town wharves by about four feet each — to a uniform 11 feet — to match Veteran’s Wharf.
” With the engagement of Foth Infrastructure and Environment, LLC, the town and Harbor Development Committee are planning to reconstruct the Town Pier, Barnes Wharf, and the wall near Veteran’s Park beginning in the fall of 2025, pending approval to fund the projects by Town Meeting in April 2025,” Boer explained.
The intent is to complete the majority of wharf construction before the 2026 start of the Rte. 3A redesign project.
The town has also been working on a sand management program to keep sand off the bottom of the new boat ramp that opened in the summer of 2022 during the boating season and will continue to explore ways to improve sand management at this popular location.
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