City Considers Buying Whittier Road Land to Protect Millvale Reservoir

Map shows Whittier Road land under consideration for purchase and its proximity to the East Meadow River and Millvale Reservoir.

Haverhill city councilors will be asked Tuesday to approve a proposal to buy land within the Millvale Reservoir watershed.

The $200,000 price, apparently already included in the department’s budget for the current year, would achieve “drinking water supply protection and conservation.” Water/Wastewater Division Supervisor and Deputy Public Works Director Robert E. Ward is scheduled to address councilors on a proposed order, authorizing the water department to purchase and manage property adjacent to 226 Whittier Road. The land is a 33.4 acre parcel entirely within the Millvale Reservoir watershed and runs along East Meadow River, the main feed to Millvale Reservoir, for about 1,000 feet, according to Ward.

“The water department was contacted last year by Essex County Greenbelt Association (ECGA) to discuss the possibility of purchasing the parcel after the property owner contacted Greenbelt in May, 2014, inquiring about options to preserve their land,” Ward said in a letter. “In February, 2015, Greenbelt secured an option agreement with the owners to acquire the parcel. ECGA’s intent is to assign the option agreement to the City of Haverhill for acquisition of the property for permanent protection for water supply and conservation purposes.”

According to Ward, Millvale Reservoir provides at least 70 percent of Haverhill’s drinking water. Water is pumped from Millvale to Kenoza Lake. “Although not a condition of the assignment of the option agreement, ECGA has requested the city grant them a conservation restriction,” Ward added. “Our intent, if authorized, is to submit an application for a grant under the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Drinking Water Supply Protection Grant Program. The program funds up to 50 percent of the cost to purchase water supply land.”

Grant applications, with “authorization to acquire the property, expend the funds and accept the grant award through a town meeting or city council vote,” are due Sept. 30, according to Ward. “The (fiscal 2016) budget includes the full purchase price of $200,000. Whether or not the city is awarded the grant, we feel the city should purchase the property.”

Under state law, property acquired with EEA grant assistance becomes permanently protected open space and “must be open to the public for appropriate passive recreational use such as hiking, hunting, Nordic skiing, wildlife viewing, educational programs and sustainable timber management under an approved forest management plan.”

The Haverhill City Council meets at 7 p.m., Tuesday, in council chambers at Haverhill City Hall.

3 thoughts on “City Considers Buying Whittier Road Land to Protect Millvale Reservoir

  1. I wonder why he is doing this yet has done nothing to preserve the area adjacent to it out in the “pits”. There is land there that is privately owned that directly abuts and runs through the watershed. This land was fraudulently obtained during a previous administration and the mayor would love to see it developed. Add to that the fact he will not fund an Environmental Police officer to protect Haverhill’s wooded areas from some of it’s own people. Take a walk around Haverhill’s wooded areas and see mountains of trash everywhere. He is the one who cut the budget of the two former environmental officers who were doing a fabulous job of enforcement. Maybe there is money in timber sales after all as Jack states.

  2. Sustainable timber management……
    The mayor reads this and sees dollar signs. Be sure that after the sale of this land the timber will be pillaged and sold by the mayor all for the few bucks it brings, just like what he did when he destroyed the landscape at Kenosa Lake. He’ll make up some bogus story like he did with Kenosa that insects are a problem all so the area can be clear cut to make a few thousand dollars.

  3. this is a prime exampleof the horse following the cart. the fiorentini administration’s water protection is both corrupt and too late. mayor-for-life jimmy cuta a deal with a groveland pol to allow the pollution of johnsons pond. ohnsons was once a major water supply to Bradford. mayor for life and his political pa have pocketed thousands though willfull mismanagement of that water resource. myor for lif also wated millions on seeking water from the river. MAYOR FO LIFE SHOULD BE IMPEACHED AND WARD FIRED