Farnham-Connolly Memorial Park: History and Threat

Farnham-Connolly Memorial Park

The Farnham-Connolly Memorial Park protects 232 acres of freshwater marshes and wetland habitats along the Neponset River and includes a six-acre public park with sun shelters, interpretive signage, paved paths, viewing stations and a site memorializing the park’s namesake.

The Future Farnham-Connolly Memorial Park

Farnham-Connolly Memorial Park is one of four sites that the Department of Conservation and Recreation is considering for the new location of a skating rink to replace a rink in Canton that collapsed two years ago.

Re-building the skating rink would be a wonderful addition to the community.  Luckily, there are other places to build the rink besides the diverse and sensitive wetland habitat at Farnham-Connolly Memorial Park and the valuable meadow habitat in the Blue Hills called Indian Line Farm.  We urge the Department of Conservation and Recreation to find a site that best reflects the mission of the DCR to provide recreational resources while protecting wildlife and their habitats.

Click here to take action to protect the park.

History

Originally opened in June of 1931 as the state’s third largest airport, Canton Airport served as a popular local flight school throughout the 1930s and 1940s. The first Helioplane was designed and flown at the airport in 1949. Due to flooding and a failure to modernize, the Canton Airport closed in the late 1950’s. The Commonwealth purchased the site in 1996 to be part of a larger, 238 acre site within the Fowl Meadow/Ponkapoag Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). The $7.8 million remediation and cleanup project began in 2000 after significant contamination was discovered at the site, stemming from industrial use after the Canton Airport closed.

The park is named after two soldiers who met while working as mechanics at Canton Airport before World War II.  The two men, Arthur E. Farnham, Jr. and Thomas M. Connolly, Jr., served together in the war, surviving a

You’ll see many interpretive signs at Farnham-Connolly Memorial Park that emphasize the value of the park’s wildlife habitat. An ice rink and the required parking would decrease and degrade this habitat.

crash landing after a bomb brought down their aircraft. After spending months in hiding, they were finally airlifted to safety.  After the war, Connolly lived in Canton and Farnham in Needham.

Natural Riches

The park includes “diverse and vibrant natural habitats that teem with wildlife,” according to the interpretive signage, including oak, forest, red maple swamp, grasslands and shallow emergent marsh.

The park falls within the Fowl Meadow-Ponkapoag Area of Critical Environmental Concern, a state-designation for ecologically and culturally “unique and significant” Places.  Fowl Meadow is the largest wetland and floodplain in the Neponset River watershed and provides drinking water to several municipalities, including Canton, Dedham and Westwood.  As a wetland, it serves as a buffer during storms and flooding and offers a crucial stopover for migratory birds as well as habitat to a variety of animals, including salamanders, turtles, fox as well as migratory birds.

Learn more about Indian Line Farm.

Learn more about the Canton ice rink proposal.

 

 

 

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