The Massachusetts Horticultural Society, which calls the Elm Bank Reservation on the Wellesley/Dover line its home, is seeking to improve public and emergency access to that location.
Mass Hort Executive Director James Hearsum and Board Chair Gretel Anspach have reached out to members seeking their support for this issue by asking them to reach out to the local legislature in support of a bill that would direct the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation to conduct a study of Elm Bank’s accessibility.
The bill reads in part: “The report shall consider, without limitation, the purchasing of private land and the maintenance, construction and rehabilitation of current state-owned land. The report shall also identify long term expansion and rehabilitation of the current Elm Bank Reservation to maximize public use…”
Access to Elm Bank is mainly limited to the one-way Cheney Bridge (limited to a 12-ton capacity, not sufficient for buses or large emergency vehicles), where backed up drivers don’t always play nicely.
Back access through private road Turtle Lane is limited to emergency access.
Among talking points shared by Mass Hort is that “any study of access to Elm Bank should explore alternative avenues, if any, over the river onto Elm Bank Reservation.”
Elm Bank use peaked in recent years during the pandemic, when people poured into the park as a place to get outside, in theory away from other people…
Access to the gardens at Elm Bank has evolved over the years. They were once freely open to the public, but Mass Hort in attempts to save the flowers and plants from loose dogs and in an effort to become more financially stable, put up fencing and started charging people. The surrounding park has remained freely accessible for soccer, walking, kayaking/canoeing, running, biking, and other activities.