Never in her wildest dreams did Conservation Commissioner Mary Kelley think something would be named for her,
but on Monday afternoon the new pavilion at the Belle Isle Marsh Marine Ecology Park and Walking Pathway off Morton Street was named to honor the work of Kelley.
Joining in the dedication were Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, State Sen. Joe Boncore, DCR Commissioner Leo Roy, Town Manager Austin Faison, Town Council President Ron Vecchia, Councilor Jim Letterie, Friends of the Belle Isle Marsh and more.
Kelley, 81 years old and a retired schoolteacher, has served on the Conservation Commission as a member and the chairperson. She is now commissioner emeritus and Norm Hyett is now the chairman.
“She is the first woman in town to receive an honor like this,” Hyett said. “And it is well deserved. Her goal was always to get things done correctly and to never compromise.”
“Today we celebrate the partnership among municipal, state and community groups that worked together to protect and make accessible this marshland – helping to preserve our precious coastal environment and provide a place for the community to gather and explore,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. “We also honor Mary Kelley for her decades of public service to the community as a steward of Winthrop’s open spaces.”
“Mary been on the Conservation Commission since before the Blizzard of ‘78 that hit Winthrop hard,” said Barbara
Bishop, of the Friends of Belle Isle Marsh. “She worked on the entire beach project permitting process, the construction of three new schools and Miller Field, airport expansion, the creation of Belle Isle Marsh Reservation by the old MDC and more recently the addition of the Zoppo property, now called the Kilmartin Path, and the Bonacorso property, now called the Belle Isle Marine Ecology Park, the DEP Emergency declaration which allowed houseboats at Atlantis Marina, and lots more.”
The $1.2 in Funding for the Belle Isle Marsh Marine Ecology Park and Walking Pathway was obtained through grant work done by Assistant Town Manager Joe Domelowicz in conjunction with the Seaport Economic Council.
In 2015, the Baker-Polito Administration’s Seaport Economic Council enabled the town to construct a pier-supported wooden walkway on the public land that borders the marsh. This construction further opens the only urban Great Salt Marsh in Massachusetts for visitors, allowing the town to leverage its natural assets for education and economic development.
“When Governor Baker and I re-established the Seaport Economic Council in 2015, we focused on supporting local infrastructure projects that used coastal assets to create economic development opportunities like Belle Isle Marsh Marine Ecology Park,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, chair of the Seaport Economic Council. “It is an honor to return to Winthrop today and to stand with legislative partners like Speaker DeLeo and Senator Boncore to formally open a park that will benefit the community and will build on Massachusetts’ blue economy.”
“The Belle Isle Marsh Marine Ecology Park and Marsh Walk is an incredible addition to the area, which has created important connections that will enable people of all abilities with excellent opportunities to explore and appreciate this phenomenal natural resource,” said Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Leo Roy. “The completion of this project serves as a great example of the Baker-Polito Administration’s commitment to working with local communities, advocacy groups, and other stakeholders to foster strong partnerships that directly benefit the public.”
“Belle Isle is among Winthrop’s greatest natural resources,” said State Sen. Joseph Boncore. “The Marine Ecology Park will not only serve as a scenic walking path and recreational resource, but also as a valuable outdoor learning center for Winthrop’s children and students.”
Now open, a walker in Winthrop will be able to walk from the intersection of Pleasant Street and Main Street, along sidewalks, walking paths and foot bridges to Short Beach in Revere, without ever crossing a major road. A new park on the DCR land will serve as a recreational resource, eco-tourism attraction and outdoor learning center for children and students of all ages. The project broke ground on June 2, 2017 and was overseen by the Town Council’s Public Works Subcommittee, the Town Manager’s Office and the Public Works Department, with local permitting under the jurisdiction of the Winthrop Conservation Commission.