Haverhill Looks Ahead to Summer Kayak Rentals Downtown on the Merrimack River

(File photograph.)

Click image for Haverhill City Council agenda.

Haverhill city councilors are being asked to look beyond the current health crisis and provide money for summer kayaking on the Merrimack River.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini is expected to ask the City Council tonight for approval to use $9,000 from a reserve account to purchase a portable ticket and storage booth to support a rental kayaking operation this summer. The booth, along the downtown boardwalk next to Riverfront Park off Washington Street, would be leased to Plum Island Kayak of Newburyport.

“I am sensitive to the timing of this request during the ongoing coronavirus public health emergency, but the schedule of construction and delivery of the structure cannot wait if want to be ready by summer,” Fiorentini said. “Given the social isolation created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the chance to provide the public with fun, healthy, outdoors activities on the river once this public health crisis is over has the potential to be a great remedy.”

Advocates of project are Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce President Dougan Sherwood and the city’s Harbor Commission.

The mayor said it will take about 10 weeks to prepare for the waterfront concession. He said the full cost of the booth is $16,000, but the city has leftover grant funds it can use to cover the balance. Fiorentini noted, the mobile booth could also be moved and used off-season for community events in other parts of the downtown such as the Christmas Stroll.

The kayaks will be kept in the water at the city’s Captain Red Slavit Dock behind the Tap restaurant. Plum Island Kayak has operated a similar rental business in Newburyport near Michael’s Harborside restaurant.

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