Newcomers' Group Building Kiosks For Conservation Trust

By: William F. Galvin

Members of the Chatham-Harwich Newcomers woodworking group construct a kiosk on the former Marini property, a 17-acre conservation area at the headwaters of Muddy Creek. The kiosk was built by the volunteers for the Harwich Conservation Trust and will provide maps and information for walking trails. KATHLEEN MAGNUSSON PHOTO

HARWICH — The Harwich Conservation Trust relies on volunteer services to assist in conservation efforts. They have a new partner in the Chatham-Harwich Newcomers' woodworking group, which is building trail-head kiosks at conservation properties.

“It's fantastic working with the woodworking group,” Harwich Conservation Trust Executive Director Michael Lach said. “They're enthusiastic and dedicated to creating quality results.”

The tradition of placing kiosks at trail heads began about a decade ago when local resident Andrew Call achieved his Eagle Scout rank through a project where he designed and built two timber-framed kiosks for the HCT's Coy Brook Woodlands and the D. Isabel Smith Monomoy River Conservation Lands.

Call started the tradition, and the trust and the town's trails committee have carried on the initiative, placing several kiosks in other locations. With the trust and the town expanding access to open space throughout town, there was a need for a few more kiosks.

Lach said the Chatham-Harwich Newcomers' woodworking group had done a lot of work for non-profits and civic groups over the past eight to 10 years, including custom book cases for libraries, benches for hiking trail heads, carpentry work for churches and cabinets for The Family Pantry of Cape Cod. The organization has access to several woodworking shops and there is a lot of interest among the membership in challenging projects, Lach said.

Lach said Jay Arthur of the Newcomers put the project in motion by taking measurements of the existing kiosks, and working with HCT volunteer Dave Callaghan, crafted adapted architectural and construction plans. The woodworkers then went to work.

Arthur, who is the project leader for the kiosks, said the first kiosk at the newly established 17-acre conservation site on the former Marini property, at the headwaters of Muddy Creek. The conservation area was a joint effort between the town of Harwich, HCT and the Chatham Conservation Foundation and includes property in both towns.

Arthur said the group took on the project about two months ago when they were approached by Lach. The trust paid for the materials and the Newcomers provided the labor and skills.

The Muddy Creek trail head will open next fall, Lach said, once meadow grasses planted in areas where buildings were removed grows in. Once the area is open the kiosk will provide information to visitors, such as trail locations, information relating to the relevant natural history of the area, maps and event information for the Harwich Conservation Trust.

The Newcomers group is working on another kiosk, Lach said, which will likely be located at HCT's 49-acre Pleasant Bay Woodlands, about 1,000 feet west of Round Cove. The second kiosk is still in Arthur's backyard where his woodworking shop is located. There is a two-step process in building the kiosks, he explained, beginning with the frame, followed by placing it into the ground with a cement base and adding a roof.

“It's too heavy to put in the ground as one piece,” Arthur said.

Arthur said the group does basic community work, not on private homes but for non-profits and civic organizations, and take on a couple of projects a year. He said they would probably do more kiosks for HCT and are always looking for projects.