- Department of Conservation & Recreation
Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Celebrates Completion of $4.6 Million Halibut Point State Park Renovation Project
Carolyn Assa, Communications Director
ROCKPORT — The Baker-Polito Administration yesterday celebrated the completion of a $4.6 million renovation project at Halibut Point State Park in efforts to continue to prioritize increased access throughout the state parks system. Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Kathleen Theoharides joined with Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Acting Commissioner Stephanie Cooper, state and local officials, and others at a ribbon cutting event to mark the occasion. The multi-year, multiphase project focused on making the property, one of DCR’s most popular state parks, more accessible and welcoming to a wider array of visitors.
“Public parks, like Halibut Point State Park, are vital assets throughout the state, offering residents and visitors with meaningful, outdoor opportunities to take advantage of and explore,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “By increasing the accessibility of parks, we are ensuring people of all abilities are able to more easily visit these wonderful properties and the many cultural, historical, and recreational resources contained within them.”
“Halibut Point State Park has long been a favorite park for many people throughout the community, region, and state,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “We’re proud to make this major investment at the park, which will enable children and families with greater access to the park to enjoy it’s many features.”
The Halibut Point State Park renovations project included several features, such as:
- The installation of a lift to provide second floor access to the Visitors Center;
- The construction of an accessible entrance;
- The reformation of accessible pathways around the Visitors Center;
- The placement of granite pieces for interpretive opportunities; and,
- The installation of a fully accessible trail from the parking lot to the Visitor Center.
“The Baker-Polito Administration remains committed to expanding accessibility throughout the state parks system to encourage both a healthy, active lifestyle and opportunities to explore and learn more about the natural world that surrounds us,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “Halibut Point State Park is a beautiful location that thousands of people visit every year, and we are thrilled that the newly installed accessibility features will make it a more welcoming park to a larger audience.”
“As the Commonwealth’s conservation agency, the Department of Conservation and Recreation continuously seeks opportunities to restore and maintain historic landscapes throughout the state parks system to connect residents and visitors with these properties,” said DCR Acting Commissioner Stephanie Cooper. “Preserving a beloved historic park like Halibut Point State Park and adapting it so it is more accessible, and subsequently, more welcoming to a broader audience aligns with our vision of offering recreational resources for all to enjoy.”
The project also took into consideration environmental impacts. This includes the installation of cold-climate 2 Air Source Heap Pump (ASHP) in the Halibut Point Visitors Center for its HVAC system. The system is now projected to reduce annual electricity consumption by 32,309 kWh, lower GHG emissions by 11 metric tons, and save $4,588 annually. Furthermore, the newly redesigned parking lot will improve traffic flow, stormwater management, and accommodate approximately 20 more vehicles, as well as the reduction of heat island effect with the planting of shade trees and other native plants.
“Halibut Point State Park has long been a gem that sparkles for the people of Rockport, Cape Ann, our Commonwealth, and people from all over the world,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “Yet its aging visitor center and unique topography have demanded improvements to capitalize more fully on it's incredible potential to enrich the lives of visitors We have traveled a long road to get to these improvements, on a journey propelled by residents, a passionate friends group, and local and state officials. I have been pleased to be on that journey and contribute to its progress. Thanks and congratulations to everyone who remained focused and committed to getting us to the point where the park is ready to go forward in stronger and more accessible ways.”
Halibut Point is the site of the former Babson Farm Quarry. Granite began to be quarried from this area in the 1840s, first on a small scale along the coast and then on a much larger scale when the Rockport Granite Company acquired the Babson Farm Quarry and expanded its operation. Quarrying ended here in 1929 and the quarry quickly filled with water through rain, runoff and naturals springs. Remnants of the quarry operations remain on the site.
Then in 1942, the US Army Corps of Engineers constructed a Coastal Watch facility at Halibut Point for the Army Coast Artillery Corps to protect against German submarines during World War II. With the advent of radar, the Halibut Point station became linked into the electronic coastal defense network. During the Cold War of the 1950s these facilities were managed closely between the U. S. Air Force and the academic corporation Massachusetts Institute of Technology Research (MITRE). This building now houses the Halibut Point Visitor Center. Halibut Point was transferred to the Commonwealth and protected as a state park in 1982.
“Halibut Point State Park is a regional treasure. The Town of Rockport is thrilled that renovations and upgrades have been completed and the public can enjoy all that the Park has to offer,” said Rockport Town Administrator Mitchell Vieira.
“Today was a long time coming. Many people worked diligently for the visitor center to be renovated. I am remembering Walter Johnson today who was an inspiring force in the beginning to preserve the granite history at the park,” said Friends of Halibut Point President Gail Halloran. “I am thrilled to have the visitor center open with great exhibits.”
Halibut Point State Park is now one of DCR’s most popular parks. It is situated on the northeastern tip of Cape Ann in the Town of Rockport, and on a clear day the view stretches from Crane Beach in Ipswich to Mount Agamenticus in Maine and the Isles of Shoals off the coast of New Hampshire. For more on the renovation, and a virtual tour of Halibut point State Park, please click here.