Harbormaster, Select Board are concerned about Besse Park rain gardens

Oct 12, 2021

Harbormaster Garry Buckminster shared some concerns he has about planned rain gardens in Besse Park at the Oct. 12 Select Board meeting. 

Buckminster said that the gardens, which were approved by the Select Board and Conservation Commission earlier this year, are located over some pilings that are structurally necessary to support the park and pier. He said he was concerned the gardens could threaten those pilings, either during the initial installation or through pooling water.

He noted that he is not a fan of the gardens, and said he wished they were planned for Tremont Nail or another location that wouldn’t take away from waterfront park land.

Besse Park, the strip of land at the end of Main Street that features picnic tables and a fishing pier, is also home to two storm drains that discharge directly into the river.

Those stormwater drains significantly pollute the river, making the site a good candidate for upgrades. The park was identified by the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program. That program is funding the design and permitting for the project through a grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency. 

To treat the stormwater, crews would install several bioretention beds, which are specially designed garden beds of native plants. The beds serve to slow the flow of water and clean it as it filters through the soil and is taken up by plants.

One would be a hard-edged bed in front of the parking lot, which would necessitate moving the parking lot back slightly. 

The other two proposed bioretention areas are in the park itself, one between the parking lot and the street and one to the right of the parking lot when facing the water.

Several Select Board members said they were also concerned, and noted that damage to the pilings could be very costly. 

Select Board Member Jim Munise said that he hoped that the Horsley Witten Group, who designed the gardens, took the pilings into account, and suggested that the board ask the current engineers to look into the issue.

Munise and fellow board member Alan Slavin noted that the rain gardens are grant funded, so the board should take potential grant deadlines into consideration and look into the issue quickly.

Town Administrator Derek Sullivan said he would look into getting engineers to attend a future Select Board meeting to discuss this issue with Buckminster and the board.