The Town of Winchester, Massachusetts recently completed the Bellino Park project on a site rich with history. The park became a source of great civic pride for the efforts of the many contributors, and for the park's namesake, Joseph Bellino, the 1960 Heisman Trophy winner and local community hero who grew up in the North Main Street area of Winchester.
Ms. Fitzgerald, also a Winchester native, developed the design for the park while serving as a volunteer on the Bellino Park Committee. She continually helped keep the project on track through many public meetings, coordinating the many dedicated community members who gave of their time and effort to create what has already become a local landmark. Bellino Park was dedicated on November 20, 2004.
The Woburn Loop
In 1854 the Boston & Lowell Railroad completed a five mile spur line known as the Woburn Loop. It branched off the mainline near Winchester Center, ran north in close proximity to Main Street (Route 38), through Woburn Center, and north to the vicinity of Route 128 where it reconnected to the mainline. Until the 1920s a small spur off the Loop near the present 955 Main Street Professional Building served the ice houses of Horn Pond. In the 1960s all railroad service on the Woburn Loop was discontinued.
In May 1983 Winchester Town Meeting voted to acquire the 10-acre Winchester portion of the Loop from the MBTA for $107,500. This was made possible through the efforts of the Hon. Sherman “Whip” Saltmarsh, then Winchester’s State Representative. Since that time, the Woburn Loop has yielded a financial windfall to Winchester of more than $1.7 million through selling portions of the Loop to abutters and other interested parties.
Shortly after the Woburn Loop purchase, the Winchester Planning Board commissioned a study by John Brown Associates of Cambridge to analyze the reuse potential of the Loop land. One of the key recommendations of that study was to balance development with open space along North Main Street. That recommendation was later adopted in Winchester’s North End Master Plan.
The Swanton Street Park
A key center of activity in Winchester’s North End is the intersection of Main and Swanton Streets. Coincidentally, that area includes the only portion of the Woburn Loop that directly abuts Main Street. It is also adjacent to the historically significant site of the former Beggs and Cobb tannery which was destroyed on September 17, 1959 in a spectacular fire.
In November 1984 Winchester Town Meeting voted to designate a 9,479 square foot parcel of Woburn Loop land at the intersection of Main and Swanton Streets as “Robert Winn Square” to honor the civic contributions of a respected resident of the North End. In the spring of 1996 Town Meeting voted to approve a neighborhood proposal to rezone 30,000 square feet of Woburn Loop land adjacent to Winn Square “to create a public park for the enjoyment of the residents of the Town” and to serve as an attractive gateway to Winchester for travelers heading south along Main Street. Together with Winn Square this property is known as the Swanton Street Park.