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June 4, 2014

Boardwalk plans get new boost in Essex

ESSEX — Designs have been rendered, and state money is now in place for a boardwalk to run parallel with Route 133 along the Essex River downtown.

Now, it may just be a matter of time before residents and tourists alike can enjoy it.

The proposed $1.5 million Essex Riverwalk was approved for funding in full through the recently approved state transportation bond bill. But when the money will be pulled from state coffers is up to Gov. Deval Patrick, or the successful candidate who takes his place at the beginning of next year.

State Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante said Tuesday that she, along with state Sen. Bruce Tarr, would need to lobby the governor’s office to request the project be funded soon.

“I would hope that we would all resolve that the town of Essex would be ready soon enough, and we would be able to lobby for that,” she said. “The town administrator Brendhan Zubricki and the Board of Selectmen have done a wonderful job of getting everything shovel-ready and, therefore, it makes it an appealing project.”

Ferrante said she doesn’t know if Patrick will decide to fund any of the projects in the colossal $13 billion state bond before his final term expires on the last day of this year, or if these decisions will be left to his successor.

However, Ferrante did say that the recent road and sidewalk improvements downtown, combined with the popularity of Woodman’s and other downtown businesses in the summer months, lend itself to giving the project the go-ahead.

The project was the subject of a feasibility study conducted by Salem State University, which found that it makes sense for the town. It noted that as the town is sandwiched between Gloucester and Ipswich, the riverwalk could be an economic benefit and “will certainly enhance a historic, cultural and scenic byway that can be marketed and enjoyed by the public.”

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