hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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January 26, 2012

City grooms downtown to welcome boaters

Downtown Washington Street will become a new port-of-call for boaters along the Merrimack River.

In the summer, the city plans to install two decks and gangways along the Washington Street boardwalk, located just behind Haverhill's restaurant district.

Each 90-foot dock will allow up to eight boats to tie up at the edge of downtown. Boaters will even have the opportunity to look at their vessels while dining on the patios of several nearby restaurants.

"We're hopeful this will be a nice amenity to downtown," said Andrew Herlihy, assistant director of community development for the city.

The city tried to arrange contracts for the project last fall, but all bids proved too costly at the time. Since then, Haverhill received a state grant for improving parks and recreation spaces, which will allow the city to accept new bids and pay some of the related costs. Herlihy said the city expects to spend around $415,000 for the docks.

Bids for the project are due from contractors Jan. 26.

Although the gangways will become fixtures of the boardwalk, Herlihy said the docks will be in the water only during the boating season.

Sharon Cohen, general manager of The Tap restaurant, said docks that have been occasionally in water along the boardwalk in the past have always been a popular attraction during downtown events.

""We've always appreciated when they put the docks out," she said. "People will use them."

Herlihy said all activities banned on the boardwalk, such as fishing, will also be barred on the docks.

The downtown has two river boardwalks, the other located just behind Haverhill Bank on Merrimack Street. It has been there many years. The newer one was installed in 2008 and paid for by a $1.2 million state grant.

Eventually, the city wants to connect the boardwalks with the recently opened rail trail bordering the river in Bradford to form an extended walkway.

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