, Salem, MA

January 2, 2014

Our view: Creating a legacy for Danvers

The Salem News

---- — It’s not often these days that you hear of someone retiring after 41 years with the same company.

But that’s the situation in Danvers, where the town is bidding farewell to a couple who have made an outsized impact here, helping to create a vision for the magnificent Endicott Park and then carrying out that vision faithfully over four decades. Until yesterday, Dave Townley was the park director and chief ranger, while Joan Townley served as the wildlife biologist and interpreter. They have lived at the park for decades and raised their three children there. Now they are retiring to New Hampshire.

Today, creation of the gem that is Endicott Park seems a no-brainer. But in 1961, when the town purchased the 165-acre property, there was some opposition.

“There were people in town who did not really see the value of buying an old farm,” Joan Townley told reporter Ethan Forman.

But time has validated the decision to do so anyway. Under the Townleys’ stewardship, which began in 1972, the park has become a singularly beautiful area for recreation, conservation and, yes, education.

Originally, the Townleys were hired to come up with a master plan for the park, which had pretty much been left alone since the town had bought it a decade earlier. Their vision emphasized environmental education. Today, that includes nature presentations, crafts programs, even a Little Explorers program for preschoolers. That’s in addition to all of the other resources the park offers: a children’s barn with farm animals, a playground, a fitness trail, a pond for fishing, activity fields, and community gardens used by nearly 100 families.

You can thank the Townleys for helping to preserve, maintain and encourage interest in the property.

On Jan. 28, the town will honor them at a retirement party, with proceeds going to endow a scholarship fund for a Danvers student pursuing a college degree in the park management field. It is a fitting tribute to a couple who leave a legacy here that generations will enjoy.