Weir River Estuary Park Committee
Overview and Phase-2 WREP Committee Structure
Adopted August, 2005
Weir River Estuary Park Area. The Weir River Estuary Park area is an ecological unit—an area defined by ecology rather than town boundaries or land ownership. It includes the Weir River Estuary Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) and related land areas in Hull, Hingham, and Cohasset from Foundry Pond Dam to the Black Rock Beach end of Straits Pond to the mouth of the estuary between the tips of World's End and Sunset Point. The estuary is of world-class stature because of its over-100 species of birds and its rare volcanic geology. Within an urban metropolitan area, it offers an opportunity to teach environmental stewardship and a chance for kayakers to experience its quiet peace.
Weir River Estuary Park (WREP) Committee Phase-1 Tasks. The WREP Committee grew out of the Weir River Estuary Open Space Committee, which was appointed in August 2001 by the Hull Selectmen to review the open space along the Weir River Estuary. In February 2002, the Estuary Open Space Committee recommended to the Selectmen the creation of a Weir River Estuary Park. The Hull Selectmen then asked the Estuary Open Space Committee members to continue as the Weir River Estuary Park Committee. To date, the WREP Committee has accomplished:
- Became a working tri-town committee, with representatives appointed by the Hingham and Cohasset Selectmen
- In 2003, through the State Watersheds Initiative, held Vision Workshop and Follow-up Workshop, which identified four major goals for the Estuary Park and broadened participation in creation of the Park
- In 2004, with the help of an ACEC Grant, prepared a land inventory and land protection plan
- Under the same ACEC Grant, published a Paddling Guide to the Estuary
- In 2004, with the help of the Trust for Public Lands and a Mass. Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Grant, protected four key parcels of land in Hull and Hingham
- Provided support for groups represented on the Weir River Estuary Park Committee, including:
- Support to the Straits Pond Watershed Association for the West Corner culvert reconstruction
- Established a Building Subcommittee to provide support for the Weir River Estuary Center rehabilitation by the Weir River Watershed Association and two affiliate organizations.
WREP Committee Phase-2 Tasks. With the acquisition of key parcels of habitat along the Estuary, it is time for the WREP Committee to enter Phase 2 of creating and implementing the Weir River Estuary Park. Work still to be done includes:
- Conserve the remaining unprotected habitat
- Improve the roadways that traverse the Estuary, including:
- Protecting safety of pedestrians and bicyclists
- Improving drainage
- Making roadways into scenic parkways
- Address long-term management of the Park, including:
- Enforcing No Wake Zones
- Strengthening ACEC regulations
- Improving paddlers’ water access as part of an ACEC management plan
- Establishing a permanent Park management entity
- Continue support of the work of Estuary-related organizations
Phase-2 WREP Committee Structure - Under each of the three towns Hingham, Hull, and Cohasset, the Weir River Estuary Park (WREP) Committee is a town committee with members appointed by the Selectmen to work with Estuary-related organizations and members appointed by the other two communities. WREP is listed as a Selectmen’s Committee on each town’s web-site and in each town’s annual report. As a town committee, WREP works in partnership with other town boards to achieve the committee purposes and meets in the three town halls on a rotating basis.
The WREP Committee’s purpose is to facilitate each town’s Master Plan and/or Open Space Plan by creating and implementing the Weir River Estuary Park, including: 1) Land protection, 2) Conservation and restoration of wildlife habitat, 3) Stewardship education, and 4) Recreation which supports habitat protection.
WREP Committee Representatives. The Selectmen of Hull, Hingham and Cohasset appoint up to three representatives from each town. These representatives are responsible for working with the Town Managers/Administrators, Selectmen, Advisory Boards, Town Meetings, Planning Boards, Conservation Commissions, School Departments, Highway Departments, Police and Fire Departments, Harbor Masters and other Estuary-related agencies of the three towns.
In addition, Estuary-related organizations may choose to have a representative serve on the WREP Committee. These organizations include the Straits Pond Watershed Association, Weir River Watershed Association, Weir River Estuary Center, and Estuary-related neighborhoods, condominium associations, and businesses. Interested citizens are welcome to volunteer to serve on the WREP Committee. These representatives are responsible for working with the group that they represent.
Co-Chairpersons. The WREP Committee elects three co-chairs, one from each town, from among the appointees of the three Boards of Selectmen. Co-chairs are responsible to each town government for coordinating projects with appropriate town committees/boards and town managers/administrators, facilitating the writing of town annual reports, maintaining a list of annual goals and activities, setting and distributing the meeting agendas, arranging for conducting the meetings, and seeing that minutes are taken and distributed in a timely way. Co-chairs serve for one year.
The WREP Committee meets monthly, rotating between the Weir River Estuary Center and Hingham Town Hall. WREP Committee meetings follow the Open Meeting rules, including posting and being open to the public. Minutes are distributed within two weeks after the meeting. Monthly meeting agendas are sent to all Committee representatives with at least 48 hours notice.
Each WREP Committee member’s responsibilities include: 1) Attending monthly WREP Committee meetings, 2) Acting as a liaison to the group that he or she represents, and 3) Participating in WREP Committee decision making.
WREP Committee decision-making. Believing that wise decisions are made when all are in agreement, the WREP Committee makes its decisions by building consensus. Because the WREP Committee wields no power in and of itself, it is also important for the committee to speak with one voice when seeking assistance from the various stakeholders in the Estuary.
WREP Committee quorum for holding a WREP Committee meeting consists of the three cochairs or their alternates, provided that decisions on all major issues are made after an opportunity for discussion and input from all committee representatives. When a co-chair will be absent from a meeting, the co-chair will inform the other two co-chairs of which town appointee will take his/her place.
WREP Subcommittees meet as needed. Any volunteer may serve on a subcommittee.