An Easton company seeking to build a zip line tour through Quincy’s Granite Quarries has taken a small step closer to their goal with approval from the city council’s Environmental and Public Health Committee on Wednesday night.
The approval, which still needs to be reviewed by the council as a whole, would allow Quincy Quarry Canopy Tours Inc. to lease the site from the city for 10 years for the purpose of building and maintaining a recreational area.
According to the proposal submitted to the city, in addition to offering a zip-line canopy tour, the site would also feature a public playground and picnic area as well a welcome center – complete with food and retail kiosks, restrooms, and equipment storage.
Quincy Quarry Canopy Tours would also dedicate $50,000 or 5 percent of gross revenues from the recreational programs in the first year of operation, would volunteer 24 hours a year to improving the Quincy portion of the Blue Hills Reservation Land, and would also dedicate 50 hours a year for whatever project chosen by the Quincy Parks and Recreation Department.
To President Al Endriunas, it’s a win-win deal for the city.
“It’s going to bring the opportunity for people to go there. By us being there, we will [also] be maintaining the property,” Endriunas said. “Right now you have graffiti running rampant, you’ve got grass that no body has mowed and you’ve got city of Quincy and Department of Conservation and Recreation are strapped for help to maintain these areas. This is just one of many. They can’t give it the level of attention that we can by being there.”
Additionally, the canopy tour business would open up the site to more people beyond the hikers and climbers who use it now.
“Our uses are in concert with what is going on there now. We want to enhance what’s going on there now. No access will be denied to anything that is currently gong on with the public,” Endriunas said.
It’s an exciting proposal for residents, who have professed a lot of interest in the project.
“I think it’s a very unique kind of project, and I think that it’s captured the imagination of folks a little bit,” said city councilor Brian Palmucci. “I heard a lot of folks and residents contacted me and indicated that it’s an exciting use and they are excited to see something like this come into that area.”
According to Palmucci, in addition to adding usages to the area, the proposal also seeks to bring out the historical roots of the quarries, both through the tour and in a mini-museum in the Welcome Center.
The only concern currently is from climbers, who voiced their worries in a community meeting on June 7. The fear is mainly that installing a new use for the area might limit access to the climbing areas.
Their trepidation is why the project will move slowly, so that all stakeholders have a say in how things develop.
“Moving forward, the paramount priority is making sure nobody loses access they currently enjoy. The point is to add uses up there, not take them away,” Palmucci said.
Although the canopy tour is a new business for Endriunas and his brother, Walter, they are not new to the recreational industry.
From 1987 to 2007, they operated the Ragged Mountain Ski and Golf Resort in Danbury, New Hampshire. From 2000 to 2008, they also operated in the Blue Hills Ski Area in Canton.
More recently, the brothers, both principals at Quincy Quarry Canopy Tours, have worked with the town of Easton, acquiring 17 acres of land for preservation and recreational development and construction three soccer and two softball fields.
Opening a zip line touring company seemed like a good next step, Endriunas said.
“We’ve been involved in the sky business [with our ski resort] for 20 plus years. We just thought it would be an opportunity. We think there is a need for it, it would be fun, and it’s a great spot for it,” he said.
The company would bring tours of approximately eight people out with two guides. Participants would go on a series of zips, go on a suspension bridge, and go on repels.
“You ride in and ride out. You never touch the equipment yourself; the guides clip you in and clip you out because safety is paramount to us. While on this three-and-a-half-hour tour, it’s the guides job to educate you on the history, the ecology, the trees, the wetlands, and build your confidence,” Endriunas said.
The project is expected to cost in excess of $500,000.
Once the proposal receives full council approval, the company will have to seek out permission from Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Building Department, Zoning Board, and Conservation Commission.
“It’s still very much in the idea stage right now, and it’s just a lot of things we have to get done first. But it’s one at a time,” Endriunas said.
To view the whole proposal, click here.