Riverwalk Park and Boardwalk


Updated May 3, 2023

PROJECT BACKGROUND:  The Town has spent many years evaluating public uses for the 22-acre town-owned former drive-in property at 669 Route 28, which was originally purchased in 1986 for recreational purposes.  Although plans for the site had originally included a public/private marina, concerns about financial viability led the Board of Selectmen to form the Drive-In Site Utilization Committee (DISUC) in 2015 to investigate other uses for the property.  

The DISUC underwent a multi-year investigative process including a detailed Feasibility and Concept Design Study for a Riverwalk Park along the Parkers River, a raised Boardwalk and an Event Space for periodic events.  A robust public participation process was included in the study to garner stakeholder input.  Various modifications and compromises were made to the design concepts to help mitigate concerns and issues identified through this process, the most notable being a looped Boardwalk rather than one that went over the marsh to Seagull Beach.  Additional information on the process, final recommendations and project costs can be found in the Riverwalk Park and Boardwalk Feasibility/Concept Design Study Report, dated August 2018, available at the Link below.


Description automatically generated Opens in new windowCURRENT STATUS:  Town Staff and the DISUC Committee have been working diligently with our consultant BETA Group to further develop the design concepts into construction documents and obtain the necessary permits for the project.  A presentation was given in December 2022 to the Board of Selectmen, updating them on the project (see Link below) in preparation for the 2023 Annual Town Meeting.  

Riverwalk Park:   The Riverwalk Park includes a variety of amenities including parking, pathways, restrooms, landscaping with native vegetation, invasive species removal, various seating options, natural playscape area, kayak launch, interpretive signage, space for artist shanties and public art, and a large lawn area for periodic special events.  The park was also designed to accommodate the future municipal wastewater pump station along Route 28. 

Event Space:  The Event Space is envisioned to draw people periodically to Yarmouth for a variety of special events sponsored by different organizations and may include outdoor movies, themed festivals, carnivals, craft fairs, car or boat shows, and family oriented live performances and/or concerts.   Site improvements are proposed to support these events such as new utilities (electrical service and power stations, water service, perimeter site lighting, and Wi-Fi); grading and greening of the site; locations for temporary event parking, porta-johns, and food vendors; and optimizing the location for a temporary stage based on a sound study completed by acoustic consultant Reuter Associates in July of 2021.  The sound evaluation determined the best location and orientation for a temporary stage for amplified events that would minimize sound impacts to abutting neighborhoods by orienting the stage towards Route 28.

Although the site was heavily utilized for events during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic to help our struggling businesses and local economy, this was a temporary situation and not the long-term vision for the site.   The intent is to balance periodic use of the event space with the needs of the community and surrounding neighborhoods.   


Description automatically generated Opens in new windowBoardwalk:  Significant work has been done to refine the layout and design of the Boardwalk loop located south of the Riverwalk Park to protect the natural resources and take into consideration proximity to nearby residences.  Recent refinements were made to the western length of the Boardwalk to allow for supplemental plantings to better screen the Boardwalk. 

The Boardwalk design incorporates a 6’ wide elevated wooden boardwalk with a number of overlooks, seating areas and interpretive signage.  Railing materials will include vertical wood posts with the potential for cable railing in areas to maximize views.  Helical anchors were chosen for the Boardwalk support system after reviewing such issues as constructability, longevity, maintenance, cost and environmental impacts.

FUNDING:  A number of factors have impacted the overall project costs including higher than anticipated inflation, costs associated with constructing a code compliant restroom structure on the property, the addition of the event space infrastructure, and additional environmental permitting.  The overall project costs for design, permitting and construction are approximately $12.4 million with $10.6 estimated for construction (including a 20% contingency).  Over $12.5 million has been secured for the project from the following sources:

  • Community Preservation Act (CPA):  CPA funds totaling $9.7 million have been allocated through town meeting appropriations in 2019, 2021 and 2023 for design/permitting and construction of the Riverwalk Park, Boardwalk and Event Space.
  • Land and Water Conservation Fund Grant (LWCF) Program:  The CPA funds were used to leverage a LWCF grant for $954,000 towards design/permitting and construction of the Riverwalk Park.
  • Seaport Economic Council Innovation Grant:  The $1.0 million Seaport grant was awarded for construction of the Riverwalk Park and Boardwalk.
  • Town Funds - Free Cash Grant:  At the 2023 Annual Town Meeting, $500,000 in town funds was authorized for the project.
  • Tourism Revenue Preservation Funds (TRPFs):  The Community & Economic Development Committee (CEDC) has allocated approximately $105,000 in TRPF funds to support the sound study and the design/permitting for the Event Space. 
  • Reallocated Funds:  Approximately $128,000 in reallocated funds from previous unspent articles have been re-directed through town meeting towards the project, including the initial Concept/Feasibility Study.
  • Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR):  A DCR grant of $200,000 has been given to the town for the creation of the Riverwalk Park.

Funding from other grant sources is still being sought, including discussions with the Board of Selectmen about donations and naming rights.  There are also other long-term funding opportunities through plank sales and fees for periodic special events which can help with operational costs.  

PERMITTING:  Significant progress has been made on permitting for the project.   We have completed local permitting including conservation, stormwater and zoning.  Applications for the Combined Chapter 91 License (Ch 91)/Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) from MassDEP and the Section 404 Pre-Construction Notification (PCN) form with the US Army Corp of Engineers have been filed for the boardwalk/kayak launch.  We have also completed the Expanded Environmental Notification Form (EENF) process and the project has been deemed eligible for submission of a Single Environmental Impact Report (EIR) which was submitted on May 1, 2023.   Upcoming permit applications include submission of a Development of Regional Impact (DRI) Exemption request with the Cape Cod Commission, a MassDOT Highway Access Permit and issuance of the Ch 91/WQC.

SCHEDULE:  Yarmouth has never been closer to constructing a project on this site in over 37 years of trying and greatly appreciates the on-going support of the community.  If all goes well with the final permitting, the project will go out to bid in late summer with construction starting in the fall of 2023.  The project is anticipated to take about 18 months to complete.




Meeting Agendas, Minutes and Materials for the latest Drive-In Site Utilization Committee (DISUC) meetings are available at:  https://www.yarmouth.ma.us/agendacenter 


 For more information, please click Links below:

July 24, 2018 Meeting with Selectmen

May 22, 2018 Meeting with Selectmen

 April 2, 2018 Meeting

February 13, 2018 Meeting

January 24, 2018 Meeting

December 7, 2017 Meeting  

September 26, 2017 Meeting with Selectmen   

September 18, 2017 Meeting   

Public Comments received    

 August 23, 2017 Meeting

 July 31, 2017 Meeting

 July 10, 2017 Meeting

 May 30 and June 7, 2017 Public Meetings

 May 2, 2017 Meeting

 March 24, 2017 Kickoff Meeting

FOR BACKROUND INFORMATION, Please Clink the Links Below:

 Background Information: