Gateway Park in Fitchburg Opens to the Public

Grand Opening Celebration Planned for the State’s First Official Gateway Park Project

Contact Information

Leigh Rae
Director, The Trustees of Reservations, Doyle Community Park & Center
464 Abbott Ave, Leominster, MA 01453
lrae@ttor.org
978.840.4446 x1938

Kayla McNamara
Director, City of Fitchburg, Parks & Recreation Department
718 Main St, Fitchburg, MA 01420
kmcnamara@fitchburgma.gov
978.354.9572

Janet Morrison, Esq.
Executive Director, North County Land Trust
325 Lindell Avenue, Leominster, MA 01453
jmorrison@northcountylandtrust.org
978.466.3900

Al Futterman
Land Programs and Outreach Director, Nashua River Watershed Association
592 Main St, Groton, MA 01450
AlF@nashuariverwatershed.org
978.448.0299

Fitchburg, MAAugust 23, 2011 — A celebration is planned to recognize the official opening of Gateway Park on the corner of Sheldon and West Streets, along the North Nashua River in Fitchburg, MA. Gateway Park is the state’s first official gateway park to be completed from the ground up. The celebration, which is free and open to the public, will be held on September 7, 2011, 3PM - 5PM. It will include live music and activities for children, a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and brief remarks from Fitchburg Mayor Lisa Wong and the following project partners:

  • Philip Griffiths, Undersecretary for Environment, MA Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs (EOEEA);
  • Janet Morrison, Executive Director, North County Land Trust;
  • Leigh Rae, Doyle Community Park & Center Director, The Trustees of Reservations

This new five-acre park is part of the planned Nashua River Greenway which will connect neighborhoods throughout the city to a vibrant and active riverfront. Gateway Park is located on the banks of the river and includes scenic views, walking paths, benches, a community garden, and picnic, play and public performance areas.

An example of what is possible when public resources are leveraged with non-profit collaboration, Gateway Park will serve as an important community resource, providing an accessible, green community gathering place for nearby residents.

This opening marks the culmination of years of hard work and collaborative effort on the part of over a dozen public and private groups, including the City of Fitchburg, the Massachusetts’ Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs, the Fitchburg Greenway Committee, The Trustees of Reservations, North County Land Trust, Nashua River Watershed Association, and WDC Construction, Inc.

The land for the Park was acquired in 2009 by The Trustees of Reservations with a $350,000 grant from the Massachusetts’ Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs’ Gateway City Parks Program (GCPP). In 2010, the land was gifted to the City through its Parks Commission and the GCPP awarded an additional $976,000 grant to the City for Park construction, along with design services from the landscape architecture firm, Brown, Richardson & Rowe.

The Fitchburg Greenway Committee, with representation by the Nashua River Watershed Association and North County Land Trust, played an important role in protecting the property and will continue to lead efforts to establish a friends group for the Park. A fund was established by the previous owners, WDC Construction, Inc., at the Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts to support activities that help maintain and promote Gateway Park. The Trustees of Reservations will lead efforts to establish a vibrant community garden at the Park as part of its Twin Cities Community Garden Project. The state has invested $39 million to create green infrastructure in 17 Gateway Cities across the Commonwealth, recognizing the importance of parks, gardens and greenways in advancing the larger economic and community development goals of Gateway Cities and their regions. “Gateway City Parks projects such as this one in Fitchburg invigorate neighborhoods and improve the lives of urban residents across the state—preserving and improving outdoor recreational space for children, families and individuals to enjoy for years to come,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan, Jr. “This project highlights the value the Patrick-Murray Administration places on parks and open space protection, and on the importance of strong public/private partnerships in effecting positive change in our cities.” Thanks to a successful collaboration, the City is now able to offer another link to the greenway that is envisioned for the Nashua River. From Riverfront Park to The Steam Line Trail, the Nashua River is the centerpiece of the city. According to Mayor Lisa Wong, “Gateway Park is a resource for the community and a catalyst for future growth and investment in the neighborhood.”

According to Leigh Rae, Director of The Trustees’ Doyle Community Park and Center, “This endeavor is part of The Trustees’ broader efforts to promote healthy, active, green communities throughout Massachusetts. We’re delighted to be part of this project and help advance the important vision of a public greenway along the river.”

The Trustees of Reservations have recently worked with the City of Fitchburg, Fidelity Bank, North County Land Trust, and other partners to acquire an additional seven acres of land adjacent to the Park. This parcel opens the door for additional outdoor recreational opportunities and provides scenic views of the Park and river. Fidelity Bank, of Fitchburg and Leominster, transferred the seven acres it owned to The Trustees and donated half of the property’s $125,000 value.

“We are delighted to be celebrating the opening of Gateway Park. The Fitchburg Greenway Committee worked for more than eight years to conserve this unique riverfront property,” commented Janet Morrison, Co-Chair of the Fitchburg Greenway Committee and Executive Director of North County Land Trust.

“The successful completion of Gateway Park is the result of many contributions. Credit for this success is owed to the generosity of the landowner, WDC Construction, Inc., to the City’s vision and commitment, to the dedication of our non-profit partners and to the State’s unflagging support. Gateway Park is a Fitchburg success story in which everyone can take pride.”

Dave Outman, a Fitchburg Greenway Committee Member from The Trustees of Reservations added, “The name, Gateway Park was inspired by the State’s Gateway City Parks Program. This Park is a gateway to many of Fitchburg’s most important natural, cultural and economic assets: a gateway to a clean and beautiful Nashua River; a gateway to more than 2,000 acres of protected open space in northern Fitchburg; a gateway to the redevelopment of historic mills; and a gateway to the economic revitalization of Fitchburg.”

For more information, please contact Josiah Richards, 978.840.4446 x1905 or jrichards@ttor.org.

More about The Trustees of Reservations
The Trustees of Reservations serve communities across the state, providing opportunities for people to engage with nature and culture and to become better stewards of the natural resources that are critical to our long-term sustainability. The Trustees work on their own properties – which include105 reservations spanning 26,000 acres located in 75 cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth -- and in partnership with community-based organizations and municipalities to care for farms, community gardens, historic homesteads, barrier beaches, lakes and woodlands. The Trustees’ work encourages people, young and old, to participate in preserving the special places we cherish. A nationally and internationally recognized leader in the conservation movement and a model to other land trusts, The Trustees have also been increasing their commitment to promoting public access to and engagement in green spaces in and near Massachusetts’s cities. From Fall River to Boston to Holyoke to the Twin Cities of Fitchburg and Leominster, The Trustees are leading efforts to foster healthy, active, green communities and create successful public/private partnerships and programs like Gateway Park.

To find out more about becoming a member, volunteering, job openings, and other engagement opportunities with The Trustees, visit http://www.thetrustees.org.

More about the City of Fitchburg’s Parks & Recreation Department
The Fitchburg Parks and Recreation Department is as diverse as the community it serves. As in so many other aspects of life, the key to running a successful department is having the ability to strike a balance between young and old, tradition and innovation, and the needs of one versus the needs of many. The Fitchburg Parks and Recreation Department will provide essential services, facilities, and programs necessary for the positive development and well-being of the community through the provision of parks, greenways, trails, and recreation facilities while working in cooperation with other service providers in the community, in order to maximize all available resources. Our employees continually strive to honor the past, while embracing the challenges of the future, and to serve an entire community while maintaining meaningful connections with individual participants. For more information, contact Kayla McNamara, Director at kmcnamara@fitchburgma.gov or 978-354-9572.

More about the Fitchburg Greenway Committee
The Fitchburg Greenway Committee (FGC) is an ad-hoc group of individuals and organizations, working to promote the protection, preservation, restoration, and public enjoyment of Fitchburg's natural resources, including the Nashua River, water resources, trails and greenways, open space, and natural habitats. FGC members include environmental and other non-profits, educators, businesses, public agencies, and ordinary citizens. Membership is open to all. For more information, contact Janet Morrison, Co-Chair at jmorrrison@northcountylandtrust.org or 978-466-3900.