Open Space & Recreation Planning

Norton Waterbody Access Master Plan

A project to improve recreational access to Norton's outstanding water resources.

We want to know how you use and access Norton's water bodies.

Whether you're an avid boater, an amateur fisher, or a passer-by, Norton's water access plays a major role in the recreational and residential dimensions of the town.

Please participate in our online survey designed to learn more about Norton's water access needs and strengths by following the link found here.

Developing quality water access points on Norton's rivers and waterbodies that prioritize user experience and sensitivity to neighborhood context

Norton has significant water resources, but a lack of supportive information and infrastructure currently limits public access. The Norton Reservoir, Chartley Pond, Barrowsville Pond, Winnecunnet Pond, the Canoe River, the Rumford River, the Wading River, and the Three-Mile River all present opportunities for boating, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and simply enjoying a picnic and some scenic views (maybe while toe-testing the water temperature).

Despite these resources, accessing the water for any level of recreational experience can be a challenge. Watercraft put-ins are not necessarily well signed; informal parking is a challenge to both users and site neighbors; there is no on-site warnings against transporting invasive species to different waterbodies; and a lack of supportive infrastructure like picnic tables or receptacles contributes to the presence of trash and other site degrading issues. Public engagement around the town's 2017 Open Space and Recreation Plan identified water and boating access and improved signage and parking at conservation and recreation areas as two of the top five recreational facilities needed in Norton.

A Water Access Master Plan will assist in identifying priority sites for improvement and infrastructure investment. Where site uses can be formalized, there can often be a reduction in user conflicts, expanding water-based enjoyment for all Norton residents.

Access Point Map Viewer

Site Specific Investigations

Norton's Waterbody Access Master Plan will result in recommendations for improvement and enhancement that are tied to specific sites. The plan will articulate the capacity of each site for accommodating users across a range of activities. Some sites may be able to support boating and kayaking, while others may only have the space and the context to support more passive uses like picnicking and taking in a view. The sites that the Plan will consider are included in the map below. Many of these sites are already used as access points to waterways and waterbodies, but better supportive infrastructure would enhance the user experience.

Neighborhood Discussion Summaries

Each row below contains the notes and photos from in-person, outdoor neighborhood discussions for an individual access point. The three main take-aways are listed below the icon, with additional details in the links provided.

Juniper Road

The Juniper Road meeting was held on 11/14/2020. Click here to view full notes and site photographs from the meeting day.

Three main issues and points of improvement:

  1. Site parking, lane configurations, and vehicular circulation patterns need to be reevaluated and formalized a bit more. Beyond site users, the ambiguity in parking affects first responders' (fire and police) ability to access the water. Better signage and consideration of opening pathways for one-way directional traffic through the site should be considered. Any trees and vegetation lost in such a reconfiguration should be replaced in a thoughtful manner.
  2. Additional regulation, consistency in regulations, and increased enforcement would be welcomed by the surrounding neighborhood. While all participants agreed that this site is a community asset and that water access is important for everyone, users that disregard site hours and parking restrictions have a negative impact on the residences that surround the site. Methods for protecting the rights of residents to use and enjoy their property, such as a resident street parking permit sticker system, could help lessen these impacts.
  3. Neighborhood residents like to see the site used for boaters, but also for families who come to enjoy just being by the water and playing at the water's edge. Amenities for these users, like picnic tables and safe places to play in the water without concern for injury by boat traffic, would improve the site. One method for reducing these user conflicts could be to encourage certain uses at Juniper Road (boating, given the trailer access available here), while encouraging other potentially conflicting uses (water play and car top craft launch) to use alternate sites.

Mailing List

The Norton Waterbody Access Master Plan is meant to reflect a collective discussion on balanced goals for public access to the town's water resources.


We rely on you, Norton residents and stakeholders, as our indispensable project partners.

When you sign up for the mailing list, you will receive project updates and notifications so that we maximize our opportunities to hear from you!