As Residents’ Request, Haverhill Conservation to Make Park Maintenance Priority in Plan

Environmental Health Technician Robert E. Moore Jr. explains to residents which parts of the city are categorized as “open space” Tuesday night at the Haverhill Public Library. (WHAV News photograph.)

Properly maintaining Haverhill’s open spaces—including providing bathrooms and seating in parks—will be top of mind for the conservation department going forward.

“We’re trying to really see the image that our residents want to see for Haverhill,” Head Clerk McKayla Arsenault told residents gathered at the public library Tuesday night. “What do you want our lands to look like, and how do you want to use them?”

With some brief remarks from Arsenault, residents mostly milled about among presenters from organizations and departments like Brightside, which cares for planters and small gardens around the city, and the YMCA. A small group lobbied Environmental Health Technician Robert E. Moore Jr. for a pump track, a closed loop cyclists can ride without pedaling.

The state requires cities to update their Open Space and Recreation Plans every seven years to continue receiving grants. After completing the plan in July, the department will undertake a few projects each year. “First on our list is to get the maintenance and awareness of these places improved because that was a big concern throughout the survey,” Arsenault said.

Of 850 respondents, she said the highest proportion, 43%, pointed to a lack of amenities—like bathrooms and seating—as the biggest problem with parks. Next on the list, 30%, was poor conditions. With those who filled out the poll scattered across the city, 87% said they visit Winnekenni Park, 71% Riverside Park and 51% the Bradford Rail Trail.

“We were pleasantly surprised at how many people were concerned about either invasive plants or planting native plants,” Arsenault said. Specific requests included a skatepark, teen center, outdoor movie theater and pickleball courts.

After a conversation with a resident, she said conservation would try to learn  “how to better reach non-English speaking communities in Haverhill. At the event, there really wasn’t a good representation of our community.”

Returning to Haverhill after college, Arsenault started in her role around six months ago. She is passionate about creating an open line of communication between the community and conservation. Department initiatives in progress include an easier-to-navigate website, newsletter and calendar.

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