Planning Commission Receives $1 Million for Cleanup of Haverhill’s Dutton Airport, Methuen’s Searles

Proposed Advanced Manufacturing Business Park, off Route 110, in Haverhill.

Merrimack Valley Planning Commission is receiving $1 million from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields Program to support clean-up projects, including the former Dutton Airport in Haverhill which is slated for redevelopment into a business park, and the Searles Estate in Methuen.

The former Dutton Airport was most recently targeted for redevelopment in the city’s new master plan, in 2020, as WHAV reported first at the time. The airport, off Route 110, dates back to at least 1929. It closed less than 10 years after its owner, Howard Dutton, crashed there during an aerobatic display in 1977.

“This funding provides critical resources for rehabilitating key properties across the Merrimack Valley. We are grateful for the continued support of the EPA and our federal legislative delegation in recognizing the importance of this funding in unlocking housing, community, and economic development opportunities across the cities and towns in our region,” Executive Director Jerrard Whitten said.

Work on the Searles property is aimed at paving the way for “historic preservation of the land, enhanced recreational value and improved connection with abutting communities,” according to statements released Monday by Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey and Congresswoman Lori Trahan.

The money is in addition to the $3.2 million in EPA funds already awarded to the Commission. The EPA also awarded money for area projects, including $1 million for Lawrence to clean up four sites, such as the Bennington Triangle and Florence Street Garage priority sites, as part of an effort to redevelop the Lawrence Manchester rail line into a rail trail, as well as conduct environmental assessments for four other projects.

“This federal funding will give Lowell, Lawrence, Clinton and the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission the resources necessary to complete revitalization projects that will improve life for hardworking families, create good-paying jobs, and strengthen our local economy for years to come,” said Trahan. Warren added, “This is a great win for our environment, our communities, and our kids who are going to reap the benefits for generations to come,” while Markey noted “Brownfields grants unlock vital funding to free our towns and cities from dangerous pollution and toxic contamination.”

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