Haverhill Agrees to Partner with Essex County Greenbelt to Preserve Corliss Hill Land

Public Works Director Robert E. Ward during an earlier appearance before the Haverhill City Council. (WHAV News file photograph.)

The Haverhill City Council approved a plan on Tuesday that will have the city joining forces with the Essex County Greenbelt Association to purchase 22.5 acres of land near East Meadow River to protect Haverhill’s drinking water supply.

The plan calls for Greenbelt putting up $250,000 for the property at 97 Corliss Hill Road while Haverhill pays $150,000. Deputy Public Works Director Robert E. Ward explained how the land will be split.

“Essex Greenbelt will end up owning the property that’s kind of a meadow area, farm fields, hay fields. The city will end up owning the wooded area on the backside. It’s actually the best area for us to own for watershed protection,” he said.

That split would give the city ownership of about 13 acres of land adjacent to the East Meadow River. The river feeds Millvale Reservoir which supplies more than half of Haverhill’s water supply.

Vanessa Johnson-Hall of Greenbelt explained how this arrangement will ensure the area is kept in its natural state.

“Greenbelt would hold a conservation restriction on that forested land which would be a kind of a belt and suspenders approach to insuring that land always stays protected. And then, for Greenbelt’s contribution, we would own the front fields and we would grant the city a conservation restriction on those front fields, conserving those fields and keeping those fields open,” she said.

Johnson-Hall said Greenbelt would also maintain public hiking trails through the wooded areas.  Additionally, an abutting neighbor agreed to conserve their 20-acre property as well.

The Council voted unanimously in favor of the concept. City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr. said a further public hearing is necessary and he would sit with all parties over the next few days and return with a plan of action sometime next week.

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