Fitchburg’s Growing Greenway

New 5-Acre Gateway Park to Provide Recreational Opportunities and Access to the Nashua River for Fitchburg Residents

Contact Information

David Outman
The Trustees of Reservations
Conservation Specialist
Phone: 978.840.4446 x1920
doutman@ttor.org

David Streb
Community Development Director
City of Fitchburg
Phone: 978.345.1018
DStreb@ci.fitchburg.ma.us

Janet Morrison
Executive Director
North County Land Trust
Phone: 978.466.3900
jmorrison@northcountylandtrust.org

Community Input Visit Scheduled for August 22 from 10AM – 2PM on site at 41 Sheldon Street.

Fitchburg, Massachusetts -- In June, Fitchburg became the first city in the Commonwealth to receive funds to purchase land through the state’s new Gateway Cities Park Program. This marks the culmination of years of hard work to secure a critical piece of the City’s expanding Nashua River greenway. This effort has been spearheaded by the Fitchburg Greenway Committee, comprised of active citizens, City agents, and community organizations such as the North County Land Trust, the North Central Essential Charter School, the Nashua River Watershed Association, and The Trustees of Reservations. 

“We are very pleased that the Greenway Committee has taken such an active role in this project,” says Janet Morrison, Executive Director, North County Land Trust. “We are especially pleased that the new park will increase access to our nearby Crocker Conservation Area and to the larger area of conservation land and city watershed land of which it is a part.”

Gateway City program funds were provided by the state to purchase roughly 5 acres on the North Nashua River located between Sheldon Street and West Street on the north side of the river. This unique program covered 100% of acquisition costs, whereas most state grant programs require a local match. Another key to the project was the cooperation of the landowner, WDC Construction, Inc., who agreed to keep the property available for one year, while efforts were made to secure funding and work through the details of the purchase. 

Working with the Fitchburg Greenway Committee, The Trustees of Reservations (The Trustees) negotiated the sale and acquired the property on behalf of the City. The Trustees are a statewide land conservation organization that have been protecting places of natural, scenic, and historic importance for over 100 years. They provided expertise and greater flexibility that helped make the project work. “We are glad to be a part of this exciting project that adds another link in the greenway. We believe that a park in this location will connect the community to the river, help spur redevelopment of the neighboring historic mill buildings, and provide a link to recreational opportunities on the City’s conservation and watershed land,” said David Outman, project manager for The Trustees. 

With the purchase of the land complete, the project now enters the design and planning phase.  Planning and design work will be led by the landscape architecture firm of Brown, Richardson, & Rowe. As part of this effort, the project team will be reaching out to the community to elicit ideas and suggestions for the park, beginning with a community property visit on August 22 from 10AM – 2PM at 41 Sheldon Street. There will also be a series of public meetings starting in September. “Planning for the maintenance and long term care of the park is an important issue. We need people from the neighborhood and across the city to get involved to insure the long term success of this park,” adds David J. Streb, Community Development Director.

Project proponents believe this Park will be a true gateway to all the positive changes coming to Fitchburg, from public access to vast tracts of city watershed land, to the revitalization of the River Street Mill District and most importantly as a new focal point for community access to the Nashua River for recreation and environmental education.

About the Trustees of Reservations Central Region
Of the 100 properties of scenic, natural and cultural significance it manages in 73 communities throughout the state of Massachusetts, The Trustees of Reservations locally own, manage and provide programs and events for all ages on 17 beautiful, diverse reservations in the Central part of the state. Some of those properties include: Tully Campground, Royalston Falls, Jacob’s Hill, The Doyle Conservation Center and Estate, Rock House Reservation, Brooks Woodland Preserve, Elliot Laurel, and others.

As Worcester County is the fastest growing county in the state and the remaining open land is under threat from development more than ever before, The Trustees are working with local partners, donors, members, and volunteers to protect remaining landscapes of uncommon beauty, important agricultural and ecological value, and treasured historic charm and significance. To become involved with The Trustees and learn more about our mission in the Central Region, please call 978.840.4446. For more information, please visit us at www.thetrustees.org.