Aerial view of Water Street as submitted by National Grid to the Haverhill Conservation Commission.
National Grid’s desire to erect a new fence at its Water Street site and expand its operation gave the city a rare opportunity to cut a deal with the electric utility to provide residents better access to the Merrimack River.
Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini said Monday he is signing an agreement with the utility to secure a 10- to 20-foot easement at the property for another public path to the waterway. The utility substation is near the Water Street fire station. The easement would not have been possible without the city’s two-year-old riverfront zoning change.
“The waterfront zoning initiative we implemented two years ago gives the City of Haverhill the ability to secure an easement agreement with a private parcel owner when any enhancements are implemented on their property,” the mayor explained.
National Grid recently notified the Haverhill Conservation Commission of its plans to expand the 165 Water St. 13 kilovolt substation. The proposal calls for expanding the substation into an existing parking lot, replacing the surface with gravel, erecting a modular building and removing a curb cut from the street.
Absent the zoning change, National Grid would not have been required to work with the city, he added.
“I want to thank Massachusetts Electric for their commitment to our City and working with us on the easement agreement to give our resident’s access to the Merrimack River,” Fiorentini said.
Poet Robert Frost didn’t think much of his neighbor’s remark, “Good fences make good neighbours.” In this case, however, National Grid’s replacement fence seems to have helped residents and the utility come a bit closer.