Haverhill has been awarded a $250,000 state grant to preserve 54 acres of watershed land near Crystal Lake Reservoir, part of Haverhill’s primary drinking water system.
Interim Public Works Director Robert E. Ward told WHAV the city and Essex County Greenbelt Association are working with the Meserve family of Crystal Street to protect the forest from development.
“It basically keeps the property in its current natural state, which is a nice wooded area,” Ward said.
Haverhill was one of only five communities to receive the Drinking Water Supply Protection Program of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. The total cost of what is being called the Meserve Woods Conservation Restriction Project is $500,000, but Ward said, it will cost the city nothing thanks to the state and a contribution by Essex Greenbelt.
“They actually approached us to do this. They had already been working with the landowner. The conservation restriction price is $500,000. The city got the grant for 250 and Essex Greenbelt has to put up 250,” he said.
In prepared statements, members of Haverhill’s legislative delegation lauded the project. State Rep. Andy X. Vargas thanked the Meserve family for their “very generous donation of land.”
Rep. Linda Dean Campbell pointed to various steps undertaken to protect drinking water supplies from action on combined sewer overflows to PFAS to watershed protection. “Water quality is a major priority in the Merrimack Valley, and this grant for the City of Haverhill will go a long way toward protecting our natural resources and our drinking water.” Rep. Christina A. Minicucci added, “Protecting land and drinking water supply is of critical importance to the health of the environment and our residents.”
Separately, Essex County Greenbelt Association received $85,000 from the state’s Conservation Partnership Grant Program. It will use the money to purchase a substantial addition to the 320-acre Tompson Street Reservation in Gloucester and protect several existing trailheads and part of the larger trail network.
Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr thanked Essex County Greenbelt Association for “providing the kind of stewardship these resources need and deserve.”
Haverhill’s plans still require approval by Mayor James J. Fiorentini and the City Council.