Procopio Companies’ Apartment, Retail and Park Complex Advances with Plans to Protect Sturgeon

Original public park rendering provided to the Haverhill Conservation Commission.

The Procopio Companies last night received initial approvals of its plans to protect Atlantic and Shortnose Sturgeon as it moves forward with its 290-unit housing, park, restaurant and retail complex along the Merrimack River in Bradford.

The Haverhill Conservation Commission heard from representatives of the company as they continued discussions of that company’s plans to build the complex, known as the Beck on the site of the former Ornsteen Heel factory. The Lynnfield developer presented revised plans regarding a proposed public walkway and dock on the river. Originally part of the company’s proposal, a spokesman for the developer, Steve Martorano told commissioners the plan was scrapped because of its invasiveness on the river’s sturgeon population.

“I think that everybody is in agreement that that would be more disruptive than beneficial. That is not part of the project at this point,” he said.

The plans do include a 60,000 square foot public park situated between the apartment complex and the Comeau Bridge, and Martorano said there still will be a walkway directly behind the buildings, set back from the river and extending to the park. The park will be turned over to the city once it is built and the walkway is to be owned jointly by the city and the developer.

Additionally, Martorano said the builder has been working with the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program of the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife to protect the vegetation along the riverbank.

“Natural Heritage has some good recommendations, making sure we’re maintaining habitat, protecting under story, mid story, upper story vegetation and doing it in a way that lets the new vegetation come in and stabilize the bank before we remove too much of the old vegetation,” he explained.

Following the presentation, the Commission voted to approve the plans with several conditions that must be met and approved by various agencies before construction can begin.

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