Riverfront improvement efforts move to the west

THE MULLET RIVER WATERFRONT behind Mill Street east of Stafford Street is not the mirror image of the same waterfront west of Stafford Street.

But that doesn’t mean a positive transformation east of Stafford can’t take place along the north bank of the river that runs through the city of Plymouth.

It was the Mullet’s rushing waters that first drew white settlers to its banks, long before they finally settled on a name for the place, and that before them provided a place for natives to live and gather.

The river has been, and continues to be, the beating heart of the city of Plymouth, though the strength of its beat has varied greatly from time to time.

Now, through a successful partnership of city government and private benefactors – from anonymous donors to service-minded civic groups – the riverfront between Stafford Street and Eastern Avenue sports a vibrant, welcoming new face.

As part of a river corridor study commissioned by the city three years ago, that area has been revitalized, with buried power lines, a pavilion shelter building on the river bank, reconfigured and updated parking, a new public restroom building and a sparkling new fully-accessible playground area that is already proving to be a popular hit.

City officials deserve great credit for moving forward with the plans presented in the MSA Professional Services study of the Mullet River corridor – unlike too many other studies and plans of many varieties that in the past were put on a shelf and allowed to gather dust rather than being put into action.

The next focus of that effort will be the riverfront between Stafford Street and Utility Park. Although those plans are still in the very early concept stage, they hold plenty of promise.

The area is too small and narrow to see the kind of ambitious project nearing completion to the west, but there is still room for improvement – literally and figuratively.

The centerpiece of the improvement will be filling in a missing piece of the Riverwalk trail in that area. The trail, which goes along the south bank of the Mullet west of Stafford, crosses over to the north bank east of Stafford, with a paved bridge/path under the railroad tracks and continuing through the park to Milwaukee Street.

However, to get to that part of the trail system, users have to walk along the paved entrance to parking areas south of Mill Street, contesting with vehicular traffic.

The plan is to create a separate, finished path on the river bank, which would require reconfiguring the parking entrance/exit. The final form that will take is still up in the air and will require a concerted cooperative effort between the city and private property owners in the area.

But, if the results just on the other side of Stafford Street serve as any kind of example, that should be doable – and the results should be more than worthwhile.

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