City Seeks to Ban Overnight ‘Loitering’ at Washington St. Boardwalk

The Washington Street Boardwalk in use during cultural events.

Ban Inconsistent with State Restrictions on Merrimack Street

The city is asking Haverhill city councilors to restrict overnight access to city-owned Merrimack River boat docks and a portion of the downtown boardwalk behind Washington Street.

A proposed city ordinance amendment “relating to loitering” at city boat docks, ramps and the riverfront boardwalk at the Phoenix Row Parking lot, is to be placed on file for two weeks during Tuesday’s Haverhill city council meeting.

“No person or group of persons, whether in boats, vehicles or otherwise, shall stand, loiter, remain in and/or about the City-owned Merrimack River boat docks and ramps or the boardwalk adjacent to the Phoenix Row parking lot between the hours of 1 a.m. through 7 a.m., inclusive, unless joint written permission is obtained from the mayor or chief of police,” the proposed amendment reads. It would be added to the end of section two of the city’s loitering ordinance, chapter 175 of the city code.

It was unclear from city officials by deadline whether state protections for public access to the Merrimack Street riverfront near the Harbor Place project would also apply to the Washington Street portion.

WHAV reported last February conditions placed on the Harbor Place project by the state Department of Environmental Protection require the developers to “construct and maintain in good repair a network of public open space with no obstacles for safe, free and universally accessible public passage. All open space shall be accessible 24-hours-a-day with no gates or other barriers installed to impede pedestrian circulation.” Additional requirements include permanent public access easements to the shoreline with signs informing the public of these rights, nearly 3,000 square feet of space devoted to “Facilities of Public Accommodation” and no restrictions on public use of the Merrimack River.

“The Licensee shall not restrict the public’s right to use and to pass freely, for any lawful purpose, upon lands lying seaward of the low water mark. Said lands are held in trust by the commonwealth for the benefit of the public,” the state ordered.

Further, the state said, developers may not “place any gates, fences, or other structures on such areas in a manner that would impede or discourage the free flow of pedestrian movement thereon.”

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

One thought on “City Seeks to Ban Overnight ‘Loitering’ at Washington St. Boardwalk

  1. They should do this at all the parks. They are parks to be enjoyed not campgrounds. It disgusting and and a safety problem when people are playing and/or enjoying the park and you have to go around the drunks, those sleeping and take caution as they leave trash and their personal belongings