The work included a new station to place a boarding dock for easier access to kayaks and other boats.
RICHMOND, Mass. — The state completed a $95,000 renovation of the town beach and boat dock.
The Department of Fish and Game's Office of Fishing and Boating Access spent this summer improving drainage, adding handicap access, creating fishing stations, and building a new dock for easy access into kayaks and other boats.
"It is a heck of an upgrade. It is nice to have the platform that allows folks on and off the water in a safe fashion," Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Ron Amidon said on a rainy Monday when state officials celebrated the completion of the project.
According to Fish and Game's Office of Fishing and Boating Access Senior Civil Engineer Terrance Smith, the project dates back to 2014 when former Gov. Deval Patrick's administration committed funds for it. The office then began the engineering and design work.
Gov. Charlie Baker honored the commitment when he took office. Last year, $25,000 was allocated to the project and this year another $70,000. Construction took place early this year.
"It started around the first of May and it was completed around the fourth of July," Smith said.
The project includes a new water filtration system. Water flowing into the pond is now being caught in a basin and sediment is being sifted out. Smith said previously there was a problem of sediment washing into the pond.
The parking lot was paved and two new fishing stations were created on the shore. Both of them are handicapped accessible. Another concrete station was also built for a boarding dock to allow easier access in and out of boats.
Smith said the work was done in-house, with the department working with town employees. That saved the state about $40,000, Smith said.
Alan Hanson, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said the investment made the lake access safer, but also friendlier. State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli said the upgrades are important to preserve the valuable scenic beauty of the Berkshires.
"These lakes and ponds are so important to all of us here in Western Mass," Pignatelli said. "This is a great investment for the Berkshires and for the town of Richmond."
State Sen. Adam Hinds credited the town with keeping a focus on the project. He said the more the Berkshires can do to preserve the natural beauty, "the better off we are all."
Jack Shepard, director of the Office of Fishing and Boating Access, was one of the many state officials in town on Monday to recognize the renovation.
"The town of Richmond has been on the front lines making sure we prioritize this," Hinds said.
The project ties right in with the Richmond Pond Association's mission.
Carl Foote, treasurer, said the organization is focused on not only keeping the lake healthy but also improving access to it. The association has worked on multiple projects to increase access on top of water quality testing, treating for weeds, and running an invasive species monitoring project.
Public access to the beach dates back to 1945 when Arthur Howard led an effort to create public access. Then he had been worried about the land around Richmond Pond being developed and residents losing recreational space on the lake.
In 1945, the state approved giving the Berkshire County Commissioners the ability to establish a right of way. Howard continued to grow a small public access to the recreational area it is today. By the 1970s, the town beach and boat ramp were completed.
"If it weren't for him, the beach and ramp as we know it may not have existed," Hanson said.
And this year, public access got a little bit nicer, a little bit safer, and residents will continue to have public access to the pond for years to come.
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