On an empty lot where a building once stood at 190 River St., the city's Brightside organization wanted to lay out a community garden.
But they couldn't.
Brightside President Doug Edison said the group needed a way to get a water meter connected to the waterline for the property.
"You need water to grow plants," he said.
That will change, said Deputy Public Works Director Robert Ward, who has scheduled a meter installation.
"I hope to have that done in two weeks," Ward said.
Edison and Ward talked about a meter installation and things began to shape up for the lot and garden.
An April 25 groundbreaking was planned for the garden, but Brightside had to move the date to May 17, so the water meter can be installed first.
The city received the lot as a gift from the estate of a Charles Johnson in December 1991.
Mayor James Fiorentini approached Brightside to ask if it could do something with the lot, and Edison suggested turning it into a community garden.
The lot sat empty for so long that it had no street number until recently. It appears to have a frontage of about 50 feet, which is standard for the area. Edison estimated the lot is about 100 feet deep.
Brightside plans to break up the lot into 10-by-10-foot plots and make them available to Haverhill residents who want to do some gardening but have no land.
The lot sits on a bucolic section of the Merrimack River with a wide view of the surroundings that give it a look more like wilderness than the edge of an old three-decker neighborhood.
"We plan to open the lot to community gardeners, and at the back of the lot we plan to build a small park with a bench that overlooks the river," Edison said during a recent tour of the property.
"We don't normally install meters,'' Ward said. "Plumbers do that, and we don't have any plumbers on our staff. I have construction crews here because that's what we do — we take care of the water mains.''
But, in the interest of improving an old, empty lot, the city will move ahead and have the DPW crews do a meter installation.
This will be the city's second community garden. The first was built at Charles and Harrison streets at the edge of the Acre neighborhood. Edison said Brightside volunteers will remove weed and other growth, as well as break up an old foundation.
With the lot cleared, they will build a wooden grid of the 10-by-10-foot plots and fill those plots with soil — and the gardening will begin.