Council Picks First Nations Park as Name of Forthcoming Bradford Riverfront Park

Original Procopio Companies’ public park rendering provided to the Haverhill Conservation Commission.

Although the park itself does not yet exist, the Haverhill City Council gave its approval this week to the name “First Nations Park” for a proposed 60,000 square foot outdoor area along the Merrimack River in Bradford.

The park will be built by the Procopio Companies as part of its arrangement with the city to construct a 290-unit housing and retail complex called The Beck. The public park has been endorsed by the Haverhill Historic Commission as well as the Native American Commemorative Task Force and will be situated at 236 South Elm St., between the complex and the Joseph C. Comeau Bridge. Task Force Chair Dan Speers explained what makes that area particularly historic.

“Now, this piece of land, where the Comeau Bridge is, that’s a place that is a heritage site. From just above the Comeau Bridge to just below the Basiliere Bridge, this stretch of water is a Natural Wildlife Heritage area. It’s the only place in the world where the short-nosed, bottlenose sturgeon come every single year to spawn. Every year, for thousands of years, this fish has come right here to Haverhill,” he said.

Speers continued his history lesson by explaining how that unique quality attracted, first, the indigenous people to the area and later, the early English settlers who used it to create one of the first industries in the nation.

“This Swath of the valley that we live in, is the first industrial swath of land in America, the birthplace of American industry. First in the nation. So, that’s why I’m proposing that we name this new park First Nations Park,” he said.

Councilors agreed the name is appropriate and voted unanimously in favor.

Councilor Thomas Sullivan called the park a transformational addition to the city while pointing out that until the park is built to the city’s satisfaction, the land still belongs to the Procopio Companies.

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