The mayor reopened half the park last summer and agreed to keep it open this year from April 1 to Oct. 1 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Last year’s opening was a big success, with neighbors keeping the park clean and planting flowers, watching for trouble-makers, and opening the gate in the morning and closing it at night.
Fiorentini said he is waiting for a recommendation from police Chief Alan DeNaro and Public Works Director Michael Stankovich before deciding on the request to open the whole park. The mayor said there would be additional costs for the city to open the entire property, including hiring a company to mow a large section of grass and installing video cameras to monitor the area.
The reopening last summer occurred after the city spent several weeks trimming and cutting back trees and dense brush along the river. The work opened views of the waterway and made it easier for police to spot anyone in the park after hours.
Since then, a group of volunteers including residents Dick LeBlond, Elaine Barker, Stephen Breen, Judi Poirier, Jim Ferguson and others have been maintaining the park, including opening and closing the gate in the morning and evening. They also have been keeping an eye out for trespassers and potential trouble-makers.
The western end of the park, which includes a gully where people used to hide while doing illegal activities, has remained off limits however. It is blocked by barriers.
But now, LeBlond and the others want the city to open that section, which is closest to the Methuen line. They said it would offer a much-needed parking area, as well as better access to the river for activities such as fishing, kayaking and canoeing.
“When we open in six weeks, people are going to come and find no place to park and they won’t come back,” said LeBlond, a lifelong Haverhill resident. “The park is a gem and a symbol of the city’s resurrection. We should open the whole thing.