The decade-long wait for Windsor State Forest to be a functioning, employee-led state park again is nearly over.
This past winter, Connecting Point‘s Brian Sullivan visited the secluded woodland area on the edge of the northern Berkshires. There, he spoke with members of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation about their plans for reopening the park.
Sullivan was invited back this spring for an update on the park’s reopening status.
Read the full transcript:
Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: The decade-long wait for Windsor State Forest to be a functioning employee-led State Park again is nearly over.
This past winter Connecting Point’s, Brian Sullivan visited the secluded woodland area on the edge of the northern Berkshires to speak with members of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation about their plans for reopening the park. He was invited back this spring to bring us this progress report.
Brian Sullivan, Connecting Point: Somewhere deep in the woods of the Berkshires, there is a really tall tree just minding its own business. Elsewhere, a tributary spills over countless rocks and stones en route to a bigger waterway. There’s even a hiker walking through this forest for the first time in nearly half a year.
Overall, though, nothing really out of the ordinary happening here. That is, until we step outside this curtain of pine and oak and see more activity taking place in this parking lot in one day than the previous 10 years combined.
For the paving crew in charge of this operation, it’s just another day at the office. But at the Windsor State Forest, it means this location is one step closer to becoming a functioning park again.
Raul Silva, Mass DCR: We’re really excited about it, if you can’t tell by the enthusiasm. Park’s been closed for 10 years, we knew it was this little hidden resource. Now we’re really excited.
It’s almost like we’re opening the curtain on something that some folks had forgotten about.
Brian Sullivan: It may seem like a distant memory now, but for decades this lot would be jammed with cars. And it really wasn’t too long ago either, as most of the construction workers in this crew had stories of coming here with their families when they were children.
Now, the buildings around which they’re doing their paving operations are two of the centerpieces for this two million dollar reclamation project, the first being the contact station at the edge of the parking lot.
Raul Silva: Everyone that visits the park walks by that space. That’s where you will see a DCR staff person there to greet, to inform, here’s betrayals map. Here’s the rules. Having a picnic.
Brian Sullivan: The second is the comfort station. Just one week before the paving, this building was getting new flooring put in. It will feature not only toilets and sinks, but showers and a dishwashing station, as well as a paved walkway through the center and around the back of the building. This recreational area will eventually be covered with new sod and feature a pavilion in the center.
An unpaved, accessible walkway made with a soil-stabilizing material circles the perimeter and passes by the future swimming locale. It’s closed now, but will be part of phase two in the year 2022.
And as I learned in late December of 2020, when I first began to unravel their mysteries, the path also leads to several hiking trails. It was pretty neat to return all these months later for just my second walk through these woods.
Prior to 2020, I hadn’t even been down the road that leads here, never mind the park itself. But it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite nature spots around.
For starters, the trees are immense. Secondly, I can hear the sound of rushing water all around, whether it’s a steep bank brook right here, or the east branch of the Westfield River, which is just around the bend. But most importantly, it’s remote. There is no chance that this phone will get any coverage while I’m out here, at least for now.
This pay phone is the last link to a bygone era as the new era of high speed Internet comes to the park. So the next question is, when do these work trucks leave and these signs come down?
Raul Silva: We are targeting late June. I think right now, our working calendar date is Saturday, June 26th. That is sort of our unofficial opening of our day-use facilities.
So, that is the working date. We hope to be close to that, maybe even a little bit ahead of that. So, it will absolutely be open and operational this summer.