The purchase spared the park from becoming a 250-home development. The park also encompasses 11 acres owned by the Danvers Historical Society.
The Townleys, who have been married for 49 years, met at Essex Aggie, where Joan studied animal husbandry and Dave studied forestry, park management and natural resources. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in forestry and park management from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in outdoor education from the University of New Hampshire.
He taught for 18 years at Essex Aggie, and in 1972 the Townleys were hired to do a master plan for the park. It had pretty much been left alone since the town bought it.
Under the Townleys, Endicott Park became a place dedicated to environmental education, with programs that include monthly nature presentations, crafts and others programs.
“The master plan was to make it an environmental education center,” Dave said. “We’ve been working toward that all these years.”
“The wilderness is great, but if you can’t get in there, it doesn’t mean much to you. So, it was to facilitate bringing the open space and the people together in a comfortable atmosphere,” Joan said of their vision for the park.
Dave said he’s going to miss “the excitement of the children,” while Joan will miss “most of all the people, because they are like a huge family now. We see people here, we see them in the grocery store, and we stop and we chat. We have wonderful volunteers who have come in and just made a huge difference.”
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.