Conservation Restriction on Land Within Haverhill’s Watershed Grows to Nearly 80 Acres

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

The Haverhill City Council gave its approval Tuesday night to a plan to further protect the city’s drinking water supply by creating a conservation restriction on nearly 80 acres of land.

It calls for the city to, once again, work hand-in-hand with Essex County Greenbelt Association to set aside three parcels of land, known as Meserve Woods, for open space, water protection and passive recreation.

The property, located off Crystal Street, includes 58.3 acres located entirely within the Crystal Lake Watershed, a public drinking water supply for Haverhill. Vanessa Johnson Hall, assistant director of land acquisitions for Essex County Greenbelt, presented details.

“This is part of a package of lands that we’ve negotiated acquiring with the Meserve family. The conservation restriction is 54 acres, but we’ve also negotiated a purchase of an additional 18 acres and a donation of 15 acres, all within the Crystal Lake watershed,” she explained.

As WHAV previously reported, Haverhill interim Public Works Director Robert E. Ward said another advantage of the plan is it won’t cost the city anything. A grant from the state’s Drinking Water Supply Protection Program helps pay.

“We collaborated with Essex Greenbelt to apply for the grant. The award was $250,000. The price of the conservation restriction is $500,000. Essex Greenbelt is going to kick in the other $250,000, so there’s no out-of-pocket cost for the city,” he said.

Councilors lauded the plan, with all members present approving it unanimously.

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