PEABODY — Phil Richard said it “warms his heart” to see locals taking advantage of the city’s parks and trails.
“It really is very scenic,” he said. “There are some trails behind Crystal Lake, and I love bringing my dog there and letting him off leash so he can do what he’s meant to do. You can see families down there and children fishing. That touches my heart.”
Maintaining these areas of the city, Richard said, is vital, which makes the Peabody Rotary Club’s 100-year anniversary project exciting.
To commemorate the last century, the Rotary Club is working with the city and investing in a series of improvements to the city’s parks and trails, according to Rotary Club Treasurer Dan Vassalo. The crown jewel of the project is a brand-new, multi-use water fountain on the Crowley Spur near the Danvers Rail Trail, Vassalo said.
“People who are on their bikes or on foot, they can fill their water bottles, drink from the fountain, and if they have a dog there is going to be a little bowl at the bottom of it so their dog can have a drink too,” Vassalo said.
The next closest water fountain is almost three and a half miles away, in Danvers.
Construction on the water fountain already started, Vassalo said, and he hopes it will be completed before next winter’s first snowfall.
In addition to the water fountain, Vassalo said the club is contributing benches, bicycle maintenance stations, trash barrels and informational kiosks to Crowley Spur, the Independence Greenway and the South Peabody bike path abutting Spring Pond.
“I think the trails that we have in town are a resource the city has put a lot of thought and work into over the last few years, especially with the improvements to the South Peabody bike path,” Vassalo said, noting that as a former marathon and Olympic trial runner, he regularly takes advantage of the trail system. “We saw those efforts, and we also see [the trails] as a great resource. We’ve been saving up money for a long time for the 100-year anniversary project, so now we have that money to spend, and we wanted to make a wonderful resource we have even better.”
Vassalo said the club saved about $80,000 over several years for the project. Some of that money was diverted to pandemic relief projects over the past year, he said, but he hopes the vast majority will go toward this project.
Richard, who joined the club about six months ago, said he was excited when he found out about the anniversary project.
“I have always been engaged with the bike path ranging from cleanups with the scouts, dog waste disposal sites along the path — I continue to replace all the bags in there,” said Richard, who was part of the group that came up with ideas for improvements, got quotes from vendors and prioritized different aspects of the project. “I knew they were making a commitment to the bike path, and I thought that was perfect that I could help out in that way as well.”
Vassalo said not only is it exciting to contribute to the betterment of the city's trails, but it's also fun to be involved with a community of other Peabody residents devoted to the city.
"It's just a group of members out there in the community trying to do the right thing and help other people," he said. "It's really cool to be a part of this thing that has been around for so long and to be building off of the momentum of the people who came before us."
He added, "I think [this project] says 'hey we like you as community members to get outside and be active, and we care about you to the point of adding these amenities."