The Problem


  • Extremely limited current public access for the tremendous public resource that is the relatively unspoiled section of the Charles River
  • Only very limited local knowledge of existence of what little public access there is
  • Area referred to as “kayak/canoe launch” has only a few parking “spaces” on a narrow busy public street that are not highlighted with signage.
  • “Kayak/canoe launch” requires ownership and storage of such a craft, and the ability to carry it through a wooded area to a very tiny and poorly located launch site right next to the South Natick Dam. It is therefore not friendly to all ages, abilities and housing situations

The Problem is that a great public natural resource without great public access is no longer a great public natural resource. In the case of the South Natick dam area, Natick’s only remaining viable Charles River public access area, that is currently the problem.

Natick has an awesome opportunity to ensure that we do have such great public access, but that cannot be achieved using only the existing footprint.

Existing public access is plagued by lack of parking and signage, and a tiny hidden inaccessible “launch” site.

While the asphalt and concrete side of the dam is a great location from which to view the rushing of the dam and enjoy the splendors of the river, it is in no way a location from which to launch a recreational kayak/canoe/paddleboard.

The opposite bank is theoretically the existing public launch site. There, recreational enthusiasts would have to own and store their own kayak/canoe/paddleboard for such access as the first barrier to entry. However, even if they did, access to that launch location is via a busy narrow street which is in no way ideal for removing a recreational kayak/canoe from a vehicle. The extremely limited parking is also not indicated with signage, and there is no sign acknowledging the location as a public launch point.

Assuming members of the public did choose to launch from this area, they would have to first carry their ~60 pound crafts through a wooded area. They could then hack their way through a small resulting launch site, but at least one such site would be dangerously close to the existing dam. So this current launch site is inaccessible for those of varied ages, abilities, and housing situations.

While this is the “problem,” there is also an opportunity. Improved access to the Charles River would expose more members of the public to a truly awesome natural resource that just cannot be appreciated by access locations closer to Boston. Indeed, many citizens of Natick and surrounding communities could have renewed sense of peace and appreciation of the need to conserve our shared natural resources from taking just a simple kayak/canoe journey.

It is unfortunate that such a message needs to be authored. If we were to talk with people who lived a hundred years ago and tell them that in a century, Natick would have a conversation about how to protect the LAST viable public land from which to access navigating the Charles River, they may well find it implausible.

This message is authored not for those historical representatives, though. This problem is to highlight that we are truly at a crossroads. We can either tell people a hundred years in OUR future that we did nothing and let private concerns take over our last remaining public access to a truly majestic public resource. Or, we can say that we chose to invest and expand public access and countless community members benefitted.

The good news is it is not too late (yet). All it requires is your input to influence the conversation. Which path would you like to choose?