Rotary Oyster Roast kicks off spring in Cambridge

CAMBRIDGE — The Rotary Club of Cambridge couldn’t have picked a better day to host its fifth annual Oyster Roast at Long Wharf Park.

The club hosted the roast to raise funds for improvements at the park, including plans to refurbish the World War I Memorial Fountain which was vandalized last year. Held during the first week of spring, the party was an opportunity to highlight some recent changes at Long Wharf. Working with the City of Cambridge, Rotarians have more plans in store.

With cold weather Friday and Sunday, the sun shined and temperatures were in the 70s for the roast on Saturday. In 2015 and 2016, the event was held at Governor’s Hall at Sailwinds Park because of bad weather that hindered the fundraisers in 2013 and 2014.

According to Jeff Hubbard, past president of the club and a leading organizer of the event, Rotarians have a long history of taking care of the fountain and park, including repairs to the fountain in 1986.

“In 2003, Hurricane Isabel flooded it out and it sat dormant for nine years while the city tried to figure out how to fix it,” Mr. Hubbard said. “We’ve spent over $59,000 down here since 2012 and we totally gutted it. We started the project six years ago with the goal of getting it running.”

The fountain was outfitted with new wiring, all new pumps and valves, and was re-coated with acrylic. This is in addition to other recent improvements at Long Wharf.

Since 2012, sidewalks at the fountain plaza were made handicapped accessible. In 2015, the World War One Distinguished Service Cross Memorial was placed at the plaza. The club helped repaint the flag pole, constructed the new walkway there and improved its irrigation.
“Rotary took it upon itself to build this plaza,” Mr. Hubbard said.

Lane Engineering, where Mr. Hubbard works, also donated a conceptual plan for more green infrastructure at the park.

“So, this last year, that green infrastructure plan was put into place,” Mr. Hubbard said.

Recent developments at Long Wharf include 25 new parking spots built on pervious pavers, and five large stormwater management areas to catch runoff. During the roast, canopies were set up in the new parking area, where volunteers served guests raw, roasted and scalded oysters, as well as burgers and hot dogs. Bird Dog and the Road Kings filled the park with their music for attendees to enjoy.

“It just turns out that these new parking spots in this area create a nice event space for downtown for any event,” Mr. Hubbard said. “It’s more conducive to public gatherings and doesn’t disrupt business,” by having to close downtown roads like Poplar Street.

As the Road Kings played their tunes, Mr. Hubbard spoke about future plans for the park.

“We have noticed that since we got the fountain running again, that there’s been a renewed interest in Long Wharf,” Mr. Hubbard said. “We just love the fact that that’s happened. This is where people come when they visit Cambridge.”

Since Long Wharf is already a draw for visitors, Mr. Hubbard said the Rotary has plans to build a new, rustic-stone sign at the park’s entrance near High and Water streets. Rotarians also plan to do more landscaping work including planting flowers near the park’s sidewalks. Future plans may also include a fish-cleaning station and benches covered by canopies.

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