Dorset quarry improvements underway

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DORSET — Dorset's famous quarry is getting a little bit of a face-lift just ahead of the swimming season.

Owner Dick McDonough is having some of the trees around the quarry thinned out and the land cleaned up.

"I'm just improving it right now,"

McDonough said.

McDonough said he's looking to open it up and create more space.

Plans are to open up an area to the left of the quarry, as viewed from the road. Most of the trees are being removed, leaving only a few.

McDonough also smoothed things out on the right side of the quarry and has planted grass.

He wants to smooth out an access path to ensure quick access for emergency responders in case they're needed.

He said he plans to take the several hundred blocks of marble and create artistic features like a Stonehenge-inspired sculpture.

McDonough and his wife, Kristen, have owned the quarry since they bought the property in 1997 and said he has spent tens of thousands of dollars in the more than two decades improving the property and taking care of it.

He has invested thousands of hours hauling dump truck loads of trash off the property, which he said has been open to the public for swimming and other recreation for about a century.

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McDonough said that when he bought the property he could have closed it, but he wanted to leave the recreation area available as it had been for decades.

"The quarry has been open to the public for well over a hundred years," McDonough said. "There has never been any charge for admission to the quarry, and the owners have no intention of changing that."

McDonough has been running a GoFundMe account, which was launched Oct. 20 and has brought in $3,210 from 11 donors. He said he'll probably ramp up that effort as the weather warms and people begin using the quarry for the season.

McDonough has made no secrets about his urge to turn the quarry over to someone else and has been in discussions with the state about potentially making it a state park, but McDonough said the state wanted him to make certain improvements before they would take it off his hands.

He said he's also been in talks with other groups.

"I can't continue to be the custodian and the overseer of it," McDonough said. "There's actually a third party who might consider taking the whole thing over."

Dorset Town Manager Rob Gaiotti said the town supports McDonough's efforts.

"We support the McDonoughs as they further improve the property for the possible transfer of ownership to a public or nonprofit entity," Gaiotti said. "In addition a plan to reconfigure parking, and possibly charge for entry and manage parking will work to control attendance. These improvements will benefit the nearby property owners and community."

Gaiotti said the quarry is unique in that it is not only a recreational asset in the summer, but is a historic and cultural asset the rest of the year.

"Much of the year the quarry is visited by leaf peepers and folks interested in Dorset's special historical place in the U.S. marble industry," Gaiotti said.

Contact Darren Marcy at dmarcy@manchesterjournal.com or by cell at 802-681-6534.


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