Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Super

Gail Halloran has been closely engaged with Halibut Point ever since it was first designated a State Park. She offered these recollections in a recent interview.

Gail Halloran, 1986
When Halibut State Park was created in 1981, it was an exciting time. I was the first Park Supervisor. It was a seasonal position at first. The main building was still boarded up. All we had was a Jiffy John.

We opened the building the second year, but not yet as a visitor's center. I had a little wood-burning stove but no running water. The State and the local Advisory Committee produced a master plan fairly quickly.
I worked for the Department of Environmental Management (DEM). An early decision was to make a public parking lot in the field on the right as you drive in on Gott Avenue, near where Doctor Webster had planted quite a few evergreens.

Parking lot construction, 1980s. Joe Halloran on right.

Joe Halloran, the DEM project engineer, did an impressive job. We're married now. Having Joe's help was invaluable in those early days. He knew about some 8' x 16' wood panels that had been used in pouring a concrete dam in Amesbury, and had them trucked down here to use as the walls of the maintenance barn. We stretched the budget by making eighty per cent of the building out of recycled lumber.

The osprey nesting platform, late 1980s.
Joe Halloran on rope, Scott Haverty on pole.
A friend of ours, Scott Haverty who worked for Mass Electric, helped to mount a pallet on a pole for an osprey nesting platform. Scott didn't mind heights.

I heard about some under-utilized equipment at the State gravel pit in Manchester. Two big front loaders were sitting there idle, and a wonderful operator named Doc Fialho. We got it approved for him to come up here for the summer. In two hours with that machine he carved out the path through the brush to make access to The Back 40. It was a great example of two State agencies helping each other out without bureaucracy and funding problems. We used wood chips on the trails that the Asplundh company was glad to dump here from their utility-clearing work.
First tour guide training session, May 1987
From left, counterclockwise: Clark Wood (Park staff), Eileen Ford, Walter Johnson, Carole Hardy, Kathy Harris, Gail Daigle, Paul Faranato
The Friends of Halibut Point State Park got organized about 1986. They've been invaluable with supplementing and supporting Park programs. Through 50-50 matching funds projects with the State we've been able to enhance things like trail maintenance, guest speakers, cultural programs, and new windows for the Visitors' Center.
Comprehensive Plan, by City Design consultants
The State hired a consulting firm, City Design, to pull together a comprehensive plan for the Park. We all thought a granite museum would be an ideal feature, as you see pictured on the left in their schematic.
I retired as park supervisor in 1994, when Joe and I had a baby. It was a hard decision. Before I left I tried to find funds for energy innovations to make the Park self-sufficient.
We commissioned a study that determined it was a viable site for a wind generator. Offshore Services, a Rhode Island firm run by Henry DuPont , won the contract to construct a windmill about 1997.  It wasn't here very long. It made a lot of noise. We don't know if it was installed wrong, or whether because of the granite it vibrated a lot. It sounded like a helicopter, and they took it down. I tried to find a quieter one, just to complete the process. It would be a great educational tool.
Some other technology we've installed are photo-voltaic cells, solar panels, a geo-thermal heat pump, and composting toilets.
Gail Halloran and young protégé splitting granite, c. 2000
The Friends drafted me into the volunteer group soon after I "retired." I've been president of the organization for the past ten years. It's a great way for me to stay in touch with things and to help out. It's a way for people who love the Park to work together.
Gail provided all the photographs and graphics for this article.


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