Essex County Greenbelt Secures State Grant to Help Protect Haverhill’s Crystal Lake

Essex County Greenbelt Vice President Christopher B. LaPointe. (WHAV News photograph.)

Essex County Greenbelt Association was awarded a $162,500 state grant Wednesday as part of the nonprofit’s continuing efforts to preserve land adjacent to Haverhill’s Crystal Lake drinking water supply.

As only WHAV reported last fall, Greenbelt laid out plans to work with the city to jointly purchase development rights to 54 acres, buying 19 acres of land outright and accepting a donation of 15 acres of lakefront. At a neighborhood gathering last November, Greenbelt Vice President Christopher B. LaPointe outlined the urgency of the preservation effort.

“If you can imagine these properties without trees…and with lawns and homes and driveways and dog waste and swimming pools and septic systems. All of that has to go somewhere and, in this case, that’s running into your drinking water,” he said.

The grant is aimed preserving and using 18.61 acres of land for passive recreation, wildlife habitat and watershed protection purposes and is a part of a larger 88-acre protected area.

The Haverhill effort was one of six identified by Gov. Maura Healey’s administration to receive money from the state’s Conservation Partnership Grant Program. It is designed to help assist not-for-profit corporations in acquiring interests in lands suitable for conservation or recreation purposes. Grants reimburse 50% of a project’s total cost up to a maximum grant award of $175,000.

Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rebecca Tepper said the program “plays an important role in ensuring our communities and the habitat surrounding them are more easily adaptable to changing weather. Investing in these important open space projects will help preserve Massachusetts’ natural resources while helping address the needs of our residents.”

The land is bounded by the Atkinson, N.H., town line, Haverhill’s Crystal Street and Crystal Lake.

Greenbelt also secured another $175,000 Conservation Partnership Grant to protect 41.8 acres of Boxford land designated as important for drinking water supply, natural resilience, inland flood mitigation, habitat and public recreation.

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