Why Haverhill’s Mill Brook Park Was Chosen as the New Vietnam Memorial Site

The memorial at Mill Brook Park was dedicated in November. (Courtesy photograph/John Sielicki)

Two months after relocating the city’s war memorial from Water Street to Mill Street’s Mill Brook Park, members of Haverhill’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial Ad Hoc Commission tell WHAV the choice to settle the statue near Plug Pond was a no brainer.

Convened at the request of Mayor James J. Fiorentini in September, the commission includes Ralph Basiliere and Linda Gambino-Baxter, who appeared on Monday’s Open Mic Show to update listeners on the progress since the Veterans’ Day dedication. According to Basiliere, it was fellow commission member Louis T. Fossarelli, a local businessman and veteran, who spoke up early and often about the merits of Mill Brook.

“We had discussed the extension of the Rail Trail and Winnekenni Park—and Lou spoke up and talked about Mill Brook Park,” Basiliere recalled. “Instantly in the room, you could feel that everyone knew that was the right place.”

Calling Fossarelli “the right voice at the right time,” Basiliere said neighbors in the Highlands area near the park have embraced the new landmark. Lynda Brown, a Highlands neighbor, sits on the commission, and has helped the group consider renovations related to electricity and infrastructure.

In the coming months, the 13-member commission plans to meet with Department of Veterans Services Secretary Francisco Urena and with a veterans’ group in Beverly for inspiration.

The work so far has paid off, Macek said.

“It’s in a really good spot. You’ve got a lot of traffic and it’s at the entrance to Plug Pond. Everyone’s going to see it. Just what’s been done so far, when I drive by, it just catches your eye,” Macek applauded. “It’s not just that bland old triangular park we’re used to. It’s become something special.”