Former dump Sycamore Landing ready for park use

Former dump Sycamore Landing ready for park use

LINCOLN – Two decades ago, when the Blackstone River Bikeway was first making its way past 100 New River Road, members of the Blackstone River Watershed Council/Friends of the Blackstone looked out over what appeared to be an impossible landscape.

"I thought, this is hopeless,” said longtime volunteer Frank Matta, pictured.

The 12 acres known as Sycamore Landing, where the group now has its headquarters, including a garage and meeting space, was a 150-year-old dump, tracing its roots to the days when the Manville Jenckes Mill was powering production. Much of what remained of the mill after the 1958 fire that destroyed it is buried here, and it's been used for numerous dumping operations in the decades since.

Matta and fellow veteran cleanup guru John Marsland took The Breeze on a tour of the property last Friday after they say most of the last of the visible debris there has cleaned out.

Marsland said Sycamore Landing is getting more and more use from local residents as they discover its blossoming beauty, and members of the group are now inviting more to come and enjoy the surroundings. He said they have many plans for the area, including a possible pollinator garden, for which they’ve applied for a grant, and outdoor recreational activities.

This year, the group has finally completed a trail loop, pulling out a pile of recycled rubber along the way, allowing visitors to walk along the river and then back to the parking lot without turning around.

Marsland said volunteers are hoping more people, including families, will decide to do volunteer work and keep up with the work he and others have done to clear invasive knotweed that once stood 7 feet tall throughout the site.

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Even with the natural beauty now revealed at Sycamore Landing, the work here will never be done.

“All we have been working on is rehabilitating a dump,” said Matta.

The two fondly remember the day they found a pink Volkswagen and the nose of a Cadillac, two of many huge items that have been hauled out. The park space is a long way from when Keith Hainley, director and river restoration coordinator, was pulling out 800-pound truck engines with his machinery.

“We’ve looked hard, but we’re not finding the big stuff anymore,” said Matta.

The group doesn’t go digging for material to pull out, he said, knowing that would be a futile effort.

“It’ll pop up and find us,” said Matta.

Last year, they were able to get rid of decades-old vines covering a massive tree known as Mother Sycamore.

Lincoln town workers and the Water Department have always been very helpful, Matta said, working with volunteers to open up public access and haul away loads of trash whenever called upon. The town also granted an easement to the group for about 3 acres of the property.

“They’ve been very generous and cooperative,” said Matta.

Eagle Scout projects have contributed greatly to the work, with one group hauling out some 15 tons of old asphalt, brick and concrete. That’s a tiny portion of the asphalt and other material that’s been hauled away over the years, and there's more to go.

Anyone who would like to volunteer with the effort to beat back knotweed or do other projects at Sycamore Landing is invited to sign up on the group’s website, .


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