As Covid-19 receded, 2023 became a good year for both Hemlock Gorge and the Friends of Hemlock Gorge. The park continued to be visited by many families, new visitors, and old friends. The Friends’ leadership credits you, our members, whose efforts continue to make the park an important part of our local environment.
Below is the list of the highlights of 2023 (all of which can be found with more details at our newly revamped website www.hemlockgorge.org):
The update of our website was perhaps the Friends’ most visible highlight of 2023. This new, modern, and simply gorgeous website is entirely the work of Ben Kahn, to whom John passed responsibility last summer. Under Ben’s leadership, the website has a new look, feel, and navigation tools while preserving the archive of our many decades of history. Ben has migrated us to WordPress, one of the premier web design tools available, and the Friends were pleased to invest in the transition. Ben is not only our new permanent webmaster, but also the advocate of new outreach tools for members that should be appearing in the coming year. Kudos to Ben!
As we do every year, we organized spring and fall cleanups of the park followed by lunch for all volunteers. The spring cleanup was made special by the participation of Scout Troop 205 and, in particular the Scouts who organized and oversaw the repair and repainting of the fence along Ellis Street as an Eagle Scout Project. They also attacked the graffiti at Echo Bridge. At the fall cleanup we had a dozen Cub Scouts and parents from Pack 210. We’re pleased to report that the park is in excellent shape as the year ends. Everyone had a great time at the pizza lunch that we provided to everyone.
We also enjoyed another summer picnic in August at the Stone Building.
We are also pleased to report that through the efforts of Rep. Ruth Balser, the first work on preservation and repair of the Stone Building has been undertaken. Grading at the rear of the Stone Building We are also pleased to report that through the efforts of Rep. Ruth Balser, the first work on preservation and repair of the Stone Building has been undertaken. Grading of the slope at the back of the building and installation of a drainage system was completed in October and should help prevent infiltration of rainwater and further deterioration of the foundation. She is continuing to spearhead efforts to effort the get the remaining repairs on the DCR’s agenda. Through her efforts, funding for these first phase of repairs has already been appropriated by the Commonwealth. We encourage you to read the DCR’s history of the Building and detailed plan for its restoration at our website.
Another important accomplishment in 2023 was the renewal of our agreement to “charter” Scout Troop 205 and Cub Pack 210, previously chartered by Sacred Heart Church. Paul Roberts, emeritus scoutmaster of the Troop, continues as the Friend’s representative to the Troop. As can be seen in our reports on the cleanups, the relationship has been mutually beneficial. We have also agreed to continue sponsor Eagle Scout Projects in the Park, one of which, to repair broken box steps on the steep trail in the park is in process.
In addition to recognizing the efforts of Rep. Balser, we also want to recognize the support of city Counselors Andreae Downs and Bill Humphrey, councilor-elect Rena Getz, and Site Supervisor Erica Aubin. Thanks to Erica and Evan Weststrate, the vandalized kiosk at Hamilton Place has been repaired and is again hosting notices from the Friends.
Next year the Friends of Hemlock Gorge will continue our annual activities and support new projects. Some goals for 2024 that you can support include:
- Working to eliminate invasive plants in the Gorge.
- Continuing our traditions of a summer picnic and holiday celebration
To do this and more, we need your help and financial support to build on our success.
- Our spring and fall cleanups need your participation.
- Visit our web site at www.hemlockgorge.org or visit us on Facebook to stay informed.
To contribute easily, you can do so by PayPal at our website, www.hemlockgorge.org. If you contribute at the $25 or higher level, we will send you one of the four posters Evan Weststrate has created.
To do this and select a poster, visit https://hemlockgorge.org/FHG_Posters/Posters_Donate.html You can also mail your contribution to our P.O. Box 62, Waban MA 02468.
Thank you for all you have done for Hemlock Gorge Reservation in 2023 and for supporting us in 2024. We look forward to seeing you at our monthly meetings and other events.
John Mordes, MD