The division of the property between Marblehead and Salem is further complicated by the fact that management responsibility for the property is divided among different municipal departments and commissions. In Marblehead’s case the Municipal Light Department is responsible for the old rail bed right of way which passes through the property, serving as a main corridor for power and other utility lines. The Town’s Conservation Commission is responsible for the remainder of Marblehead’s piece of the property. In Salem’s case, its Conservation Commission and Recreation and Park Department are each responsible for a part of the area. To simplify this situation, Marblehead has undertaken to provide routine and regular maintenance to the entire property pursuant to a written agreement between the Town and the City.
Marblehead is planning support for a small and independent project to suggest concepts for possible future usage of the property. This will be a student project for the Conway School of Landscape Design, to be carried out between April and July of 2014. The study is for conceptual thinking only, with no commitment for applying any results as presented in a final report. The graduate students have a great deal of work to do collecting information about the property, applicable regulations, and the interests of the public. However, the school’s past work shows their serious interests and capabilities. We look forward to seeing the results!
In the meantime…
In parallel with the efforts at developing concepts for property usage, another task is underway to collect information about the history of the site for possible use in creating interpretive signage. This will be tested to see how it might blend with the concepts developed by the Conway School.
The area’s history through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries is particularly interesting. What became the site of a mill for producing white lead started as a grist mill on Forest River. In the same time period that the owner of Salem Lead Works bought the mill and used it to relocate his factory to the Forest River site, Marblehead was also providing financial support to the Eastern Railroad to build a rail spur from the town center to Salem, replacing an existing stagecoach run. The Eastern Railroad had just completed a line from Boston to Salem, and the spur connection to Marblehead was important to the local economy.
– Bob French