Haverhill Residents May Soon Enjoy New Walking Trails with the Convenience of Downloadable Maps

File photograph. (Image licensed by Ingram Image.)

Haverhill residents may soon enjoy a new set of walking trails, complete with signage and downloadable maps, covering 22.5 acres of agricultural land the city is in the process of buying at 97 Corliss Hill Road.

The Haverhill Conservation Commission recently gave its sign off to plans to protect the property once Essex County Greenbelt Association and the city take possession. Haverhill’s portion of the land is primarily wooded area, while Greenbelt’s is farm and hay fields. Greenbelt’s Assistant Director of Conservation Vanessa Johnson Hall told commissioners about the proposed trail network.

“We have three full-time stewardship staff who oversee all of the properties that we own. We also hope to have a public trail from Corliss Hill Road, and Greenbelt will be responsible for signing those trails, mapping them and having copies of those maps on our website,” she said.

Johnson-Hall went on to say under the agreement, the Conservation Commission will represent the city regarding environmental protections. Earlier this month, before the City Council, Johnson-Hall promised any farming on the land will provide protection for drinking water.

Councilors, after a year of debate, agreed to exercise the city’s right of first refusal to buy the land from Mark A. and Daniel S. Byra to keep it from being developed and protect the watershed. A year ago, city councilors were told the city missed the deadline for purchasing the property. Last spring, however, they learned the city had more time because of legal extensions due to COVID-19.

Councilors approved a memorandum of agreement in August that called for the city to pay $150,000 for 13 acres along East Meadow River, while Greenbelt pays $250,000 for the remainder of the property. Technically, Greenbelt will purchase all of the land, but the city will take a portion back.

Conservation Commission Vice Chairman Ralph T. Basiliere made his support for the idea very clear.

“This is the very best thing I could have got for Christmas. I believe this conservation restriction is in the public interest,” he said.

Commissioners gave unanimous approval to the proposal and sent it off to the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

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