By Alan Wheelock
Special to The Express
Despite some damp weather, more than100 people turned out on Saturday afternoon, April 23, for the official opening and celebration of Plympton’s new parks. Visitors wandered throughout the network of trails and marveled again at the 600 foot long boardwalk that carried them comfortably across the wetlands surrounding Jones River Brook.. Since the trails, boardwalk and park benches were completed late last fall, the Parks have received steady use and drawn consistent praise from the townspeople who visit and see the beauty of Churchill Park, the impressive contours of Cato’s Ridge, and the expansive, picturesque views in the O’Neil Marsh.
The event started at noon. Residents gathered in what is known as the old gravel pit area, where a flatbed truck served as a stage for the The Keepers, a local acoustic bluegrass brand who provided entertainment. Children in attendance were excited to go off on a scavenger hunt (designed by Alison McSweeney and town librarian Deb Batson) that helped them learn about many of the natural features to be found throughout the park.
At 1 PM, Open Space Committee Co-chairs Vicki Alberti and Linda Leddy asked about 25 people who have been especially important to the Parks’ creation to join them up on the truck bed. Alberti kicked off the ceremony with an enthusiastic welcome to all the attendees, thanking everyone for their support these last 4 years, and reminding them that these 105 acres were acquired by the town for $20,000, thanks to Community Preservation Funds.
She then introduced Leddy, who began with a tribute to the late Gail Briggs, a Plympton Open Space Committee member whose forward-looking vision was the inspiration for the Parks creation. Leddy then introduced several individuals who made key contributions to the Parks’ creation. The first of these was Beverly Messinger, who worked with the town to ensure their family lands on Main Street would become a park. The Messingers are descended from one of Plympton’s founding families, the Churchills.
Leddy then reiterated Plympton’s gratitude to Congressman Keating for his crucial help early in the project, when he facilitated solving an unforeseen issue with the IRS. The Congressman noted that the Parks were an outstanding accomplishment, especially for a town as small as Plympton, and that he was very proud of what a dedicated group of citizens had accomplished. He also spoke about the importance of conserving land, giving families a place to enjoy the outdoors and leaving a healthy environment for future generations. Hearing children in the distance playing and laughing on the scavenger hunt, he remarked “That’s what it’s all about!”
The Wildlands Trust and the Compact of Cape Cod Land Trusts both received warm thanks for their ongoing technical services to help the town acquire and manage the Parks. Mark Robinson, Director of the Compact, commented “I am very jealous of Plympton. You managed to create a 105-acre park for $20,000, and I cannot believe you have done it all with volunteer labor. I work on the Cape where we recently spent two and half years raising $1.8 million to preserve 19 acres!”