Haverhill has a second chance to buy a 22.5-acre parcel to prevent its development and help protect the city’s water supply.
While Mayor James J. Fiorentini turned down the opportunity to buy the 97 Corliss Hill Road land for $400,000 in March, Essex County Greenbelt is expected to tell city councilors tonight how it may still be preserved. At the time, the mayor said the city had only a 120-day right of first refusal and he chose to forgo the offer in favor of buying a 29.4-acre Brandy Brow Road parcel closer to the Millvale Reservoir watershed. Asked what changed, resident Christine Kwitchoff told WHAV the city has more time to act than first believed.
“Actually, there was a COVID-era provision that there was no timeframe. That timeframe got lifted because of the state of emergency. Until that state of emergency is lifted, there is no time frame,” she explained.
Kwitchoff took City Councilors John A. Michitson and Timothy J. Jordan on a tour of the area this past weekend. The two plan to introduce Vanessa Johnson-Hall of Essex County Greenbelt to discuss “an alternative path forward” for the land owned by Daniel and Mark Byra. The property had been in an agricultural trust.
Essex County Greenbelt already has a large presence in the city, owning the 21.7-acre Bailey Reservation on Kingsbury Road and 15-acre Baypoint Riverfront, among other properties. Kwitchoff welcomes the organization’s involvement.
“They do have a presence and, frankly, they’d like to increase their presence. That’s where this is really coming from. Can we just do a time out and, before the city exercises its desire to sell this to a developer, there is another way,” she said.
In a letter to city councilors Friday, the mayor said discussions with the landowners and Greenbelt are taking place. He noted, “The city does not wish to see a large development in that area and wishes to protect its water supply.”
The Haverhill City Council meets tonight at 7 p.m., both remotely and in the Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. City Council Chambers in Haverhill City Hall, 4 Summer St. As a public service, 97.9 WHAV plans to carry the meeting live.