“We’re talking many years [to do these things], but we can make it a productive many years too,’’ Foley said. “Right now it’s way up in the air, a lot of speculation, but the more the better. Let’s explore everything.”
For city officials, the vision includes foot paths and determining what type of recreation — from kiting to kayaking — should be encouraged.
Those discussions are ongoing with the Army Corps, said mayoral spokesman Christopher Walker, and will be nailed down in the next few months and will include elements of park space.
“Walkways yes, some grading and planting of seed and plants, and all those components anyone would consider part of a passive open space will certainly be factored into the planning,” Walker said.
More expensive, long-term options — removing the utility lines that run through the property, excavating more of the wetlands, and installing floating walkways — will be factored into planning, but might not be realized for some time to come.
“Sometimes you take a step back and realize the federal government spent a substantial amount of money here for the restoration of this wetland, which was very much needed,” Walker said. “The city made its contribution. Now that that’s winding down, there are considerations between all the other [city] parks and what we can do in a short-term time frame and long term, those are all factors in the planning process.”
While much is still in flux, Walker said the project has already accomplished much of what it set out to do.
“First and foremost, this was the Army Corps priority — was to restore a living, functioning wetland that had all but died in that area,” Walker said. “And that area is very much complete. We’re seeing the results of that.”
Birds and invertebrate creatures have returned to the marshlands, and most of the phragmites have been suffocated with dirt or killed with the saltwater tides. A side benefit, Walker noted, is a reduced threat of brush fires.
Moreover, the restoration will be a counterweight to the transformation of the downtown, and will mean a cumulative transformation of the city’s biggest draws.
“The mayor all the time points out and highlights . . . what separates Quincy from [other] urban areas. We have 27 miles of coastline. We have the Blue Hills, we have the history of the Adamses, and we have a downtown that is going to be that much more vibrant,” Walker said. “The bones are there for the city to capitalize on all of these things, and the waterfront is a big piece of it.”
Jessica Bartlett can be reached at jessica.may.bartlett gmail .com.