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Hingham resident funds $5,000 study to look at harbor uses

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  December 12, 2012 02:41 PM

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For Hingham resident DJ MacKinnon, Hingham Harbor is a land of untapped possibilities.

Besides the current seasonal uses of rowing and sailing at the harbor, there could be much more, including kayaking, fishing, walking, boating, and significant updates to the Bathing Beach. Not to mention potential for a community space, gym, or other year-round facility.

With those plans in mind, MacKinnon has funded a $5,000 study to look at long-term uses of the harbor, with a focus on sailing and rowing.

Having been involved in a number of improvement projects in town, including updates to the Beal Street Fields, and being a board member for the South Shore YMCA, MacKinnon said he’s always had an interest in these things, and the time was right to start looking forward.

Though the Harbor Development Committee is also undertaking a long-term look at where the harbor might be going, MacKinnon said his study, being done by Community Rowing, Inc. (CRI) will be narrower.

“They are focused on activities of sailing, rowing, kayaking, and paddle boarding. It is an in-depth study with people expert in the field. It’s just a piece of the overall plan,” MacKinnon said.

The undertaking is large, and MacKinnon, alongside CRI Executive Director Bruce Smith, went to speak with selectmen on Tuesday night about how they would like to see the study go.

Based on the discussion, the harbor could go in a number of directions. For Selectman Bruce Rabuffo, a great option would be to open the harbor to outsiders, either by dredging the harbor and putting in docks – creating economic opportunities with people coming to the South Shore town by boat.

For Selectman Irma Lauter, the focus should remain on Hingham residents.

“I don’t think the piece we’re talking about should be geared to tourism. I like the idea of the community rowing we saw. I'd like to see that married with likes of Lincoln Maritime,” Lauter said.

Selectmen Chair Laura Burns, meanwhile, valued walking alongside the harbor, and said more attention has to be paid to the eastern part of it.

Enhancing the current uses of the harbor will be a priority, and well as updating amenities at the Bathing Beach, incorporating more community events, dealing with erosion, and possibly introducing kayak rentals.

Duck and goose hunting, Audubon desires, and even potential uses for the Trustees of Reservations should also be considered, selectmen said.

“It’s a nice problem, we have a lot of people who want to use the harbor. We have a lot of people who want it to be successful, we just want to come up with a plan with works,” MacKinnon said.

After meeting with selectmen, MacKinnon and Smith also chatted with the Hingham High rowing team, Lincoln Maritime, and the Harbor Development Committee.

The group has also had discussions with the harbormaster.

From here, the plan is to take a few months to start to look into ideas, speak with neighbors about their thoughts, and come back to the development committee with a list of long-term options.

“It’s a process that will take a few months to go through this stage. Hopefully, the outcome is a plan for the harbor [that] people will embrace,” MacKinnon said.

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