SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

June 25, 2013

Plans underway for canoe launch at Patton property

By Jonathan Phelps
Staff writer

---- — HAMILTON — There is no public access to launch a canoe or kayak along the Ipswich River in Hamilton, but the town is hoping to change that by later this summer.

As part of ongoing plans for the Patton estate, town officials last week examined different ways to open such a launch on the property. The 27-acre property at 650 Asbury St. was donated to the town last year by Joanne Patton, widow of Maj. Gen. George Patton and daughter-in-law to the World War II general of the same name.

“If you had to tote your craft back there, it is a long haul off of the road,” said Town Manager Michael Lombardo. “So, we want to create parking and an area where they can swing in and drop off their canoe or kayak at the dock.”

This is the first step in moving forward with plans for the estate, the gift of which was accepted at Town Meeting in May 2012. Among possible revenue sources, the property could be leased out as an event venue, restaurant and/or bed-and-breakfast.

There is also talk about a possible public sports field being built at the property.

Lombardo said an entrance for vehicle traffic is expected to be built off an access road to an unused town well that abuts the Patton property. The town received approval to abandon the well about a month ago, said selectmen Chairman Marc Johnson.

“We couldn’t do anything with the launch until DEP approved the abandonment,” Johnson said.

Lombardo said a request for proposals is expected to be advertised in the next two to three weeks for a firm to do the engineering work for the access road to the launch.

“We think we can get a road — a gravel-type road, not paved — something temporary to get us up there and get access, hopefully, sometime midsummer,” Lombardo said. “That is what we are shooting for.”

Johnson said there is an aluminum dock at the back of the property right now that will be used for the launch.

“There are no public launches going into the Ipswich River,” Johnson said. “This is the only place into the Ipswich River we can have a public launch.”

He said there are also talks underway with the Essex County Greenbelt Association to build a river walk.

What to do with the house, built in 1786, has not been determined. A group appointed by selectmen is still looking into possible options.

Johnson said there are multiple uses being discussed, including leasing the homestead for an event center or bed-and-breakfast. Stables on the property will likely be included in such a lease, he said.

He said the town has received a draft from a bed-and-breakfast consultant. “At this point, it looks financially feasible,” he said.

Another RFP will issued this summer to find out what the home could be used for, Johnson said.

The Recreation Board is expected to look into whether any of the land could be used for sports fields.

Lombardo said last night that the town has also reached out to Gordon College about signing a lease for its work in archiving the documents and artifacts of the Patton family. The college started working with Joanne Patton in 2008 on the project.

Johnson said the lease would help the town pay for the utilities in the section of the house the college uses.

Staff writer Jonathan Phelps can be reached at 978-338-2527 or by email at jphelps@salemnews.com. Follow him on Twitter at JPhelps_SN.