BEVERLY — The city plans to reinvigorate trails on the Bass River near Ayers Ryal Side Elementary School before the summer’s end.
“It’s too out-of-sight right now,” said Michael Collins, public works commissioner.
In its current state, visitors walking the narrow paths of Green’s Hill Reservation often have to push aside branches and watch their step, while competing vegetation makes for low visibility. The area also holds a reputation for homeless camps and other “extracurriculars,” Collins said.
Green’s Hill is underused by citizens, Mayor Mike Cahill said. He envisions wider stone-dust walkways with wheelchair accessibility, a taller branch line with increased visibility, benches and other outdoor hardware similar to what exists along Boston’s Esplanade, and eventually a trail connecting to Green Street.
“We just want there to be regular movement and activity,” Cahill said.
On Thursday, the state Senate passed an environmental bond bill that approved $128,000 for “trail restoration, aesthetic improvements and additional signage,” according to a statement from state Sen. Joan Lovely’s office. That bill must still pass muster with a House-Senate conference committee and then must be released by the governor, a prospect that could take years, Cahill said.
In the meantime, funding for brush removal and trail upgrades, expected to cost about $25,000, will come from the city budget, said Bruce Doig, director of Parks and Recreation.
The work will also extend the fields for the school. That work began last week, with crews clearing edges of the existing field, heavily populated with aggressive sumac. The city plans to raise the cleared ground and extend the field toward the Bass River. Clearing the trails will also ease access to the river for outdoor learning, Cahill said.
The city acquired the 12 acres in the reservation in 2001, using state grant funds. Green’s Hill is a popular resting stop for migratory birds and home to opossum, rabbits, squirrels, skunks and raccoons. Access to Green’s Hills is provided by Woodland Avenue, off Green Street to the north and Bridge Street to the south.
By the time the school bell sounds in late August, Cahill hopes to have the trails cleared. Where the trail runs along the Bass River, the goal is to create a view of the water.
“Thin out the trees, and now you have a little vista,” Collins said.
George LeVines can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 617-942-1354.