hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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February 6, 2014

Possible Dreams: River access, high-tech growth

Public suggests ways to make Haverhill better

They imagine a series of community gardens in the inner-city.

They want to offer consumers discount cards to spend their money locally.

They say the city should have a fair to show residents how they can volunteer to help the community.

And they also envision bigger things, such as increasing public access to the Merrimack River and attracting more high tech firms to Haverhill.

Giving a voice to dreamers across the community, Team Haverhill’s seventh annual Possible Dreams event was an opportunity to articulate visions and spark ideas for making Haverhill a better place to live and work.

Ideas of all kinds emerged from this year’s event, sponsored by the Team Haverhill volunteer organization.

They included holding a fair where local nonprofits can promote volunteer opportunities, creating community gardens for inner-city children, building a restroom for the homeless in GAR Park, offering a discount card for local attractions, increasing access to the Merrimack River, creating more family friendly events and attracting more high tech firms to the city.

Even the Santa Parade was brought up. Some residents wondered if instead of the parade crossing the Basiliere Bridge then traveling up Main Street to Monument Square, could it maybe take a left turn onto Merrimack Street and conclude in downtown Washington Square for the annual Christmas tree lighting.

More than 100 residents — including many who moved here recently — gathered late last month at cafe tables at Northern Essex Community College to identify steps that could be taken in the coming year to move the community to the “next level.”

This annual community conversation has evolved quite a bit since its creation in 2008, said Alice Mann, vice president of Team Haverhill who served as moderator for this year’s event.

“Right now the city’s revitalization has a lot of momentum, so Possible Dreams participants wanted to talk about the big picture — what’s most encouraging right now, and what’s next,” Mann said. “Those creative next steps might come from anywhere — neighborhood residents, elected officials, local nonprofits, business groups, or individual entrepreneurs and investors. We hope they all got some new ideas and helpful guidance from the Possible Dreams event.”

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