Vision to transform Peddocks into island retreat

Vision to transform Peddocks into island retreat

BOSTON — Peddocks Island is the second largest of the 34 Boston Harbor Islands network, but the Department of Conservation and Recreation says it’s one of the least visited.

And yet, everyone isn’t accepting a plan to drastically change that with open arms.

Step on board to the daily direct ferry that leaves here every morning, from Long Wharf to Peddocks Island, and you’ll get there in less than an hour.

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Several thousand people make the journey there every summer, but the state agency that owns the island would like to increase that number to at least tens of thousands — which they say requires a big change.

It’s a quick escape from that city that’s home to some of Robbie LaChance’s fondest childhood memories.

“The escape from the hustle and bustle of the city," said Lachance. "There’s a certain kind of calm you get when you get there."

"It’s just beautiful," he said.

The natural, lush beauty of Peddocks Island is one of its main draws for camping trips.

A bird's eye view from Sky25 gives you a glimpse of another attraction: its history, home to Fort Andrews and a collection of World War II-era structures.

A vision for new development on that same land is not sitting well with LaChance, who helped create the Save Peddocks Island page on Facebook, which has received more than 500 likes.

"We’re in strict opposition of what Boston Harbor now wants to do," LaChance said.

"We just say keep it the same, preserve the history, the natural beauty of it," he said.

Kathy Abbott is president and CEO of Boston Harbor Now, the nonprofit that's managing the contract to develop the island on behalf of the DCR.

"There’s been a general interest in trying to bring Peddocks into the mainstream of the islands," Abbott said.

Peddocks Island, located between Quincy and Hull, is the second largest of the 34 Boston Harbor Islands Network. But Abbott says its one of the least visited. Last year, 3,559 people visited the island, down from 4,992 the previous year.

"This is the only island with these old historic fort buildings that could conceivably be adaptively reused for everything from youth hostel to inn to B&B to spa," Abbott said.

The island, that’s only about a 30-minute ferry ride from Boston, is already equipped with electrical service, sewer and public water.

Abbott says money made on increased visitation would be reinvested to maintain the islands.

In addition to a luxury hotel, a spa and a waterfront café, there are also proposals to add a research facility and a place to host educational programming for continued growth in the future.

"Peddocks Island, we hope, is going to be one of the premier places that people go to find that kind of rest and relaxation," Abbott said.

LaChance disagrees. He says new buildings and hotels would detract from the natural scenery and history of Peddocks.

Boston Harbor Now has already hosted several open houses to get input for its Peddocks Island Vision Plan and it's still asking for the public's opinion through its online survey.

It’s hoping to have a plan crafted by the end of the year.

According to Boston Harbor Now, $15 million was spent over the last 15 years to clean up and preserve Fort Andrews on Peddocks Island

“One of the only ways we can save the historic resources that we’ve already invested in preserving is to continue to find uses for those so the roofs don’t rot again,” explained Abbott.