hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

News

July 25, 2013

City reopens park closed since 1998

Neighbors to help watch over Hannah Duston Park

A picturesque area that was once a trouble spot on the banks of the Merrimack River will reopen this week as a public park after 15 years in hibernation.

The city is hosting a small celebration Thursday at 8 a.m. at the Hannah Duston Rest Area — small park sandwiched between Route 110 and the river near the Methuen line.

The secluded park was closed around 1998 because it became a place for criminal activity, including partying, drug use and sexual liaisons.

Mayor James Fiorentini said opening the rest area is part of his plan to focus on improving city parks and playgrounds this year.

In the future, the park will open daily at 8 a.m. and close at 8 p.m., from June 1 to Oct. 1. The City Council has passed an ordinance allowing police to arrest anyone in the park after hours and to tow vehicles found there at night.

Local and state police have agreed to keep close watch on the rest area, Fiorentini said, adding that security cameras will be installed there.

In recent weeks, trees and dense brush along the river have been cut and trimmed to open views of the waterway and to make it easier for police patrols to spot anyone in the park after hours.

The western end of the park, which includes a gully where people used to hide from sight, will be permanently blocked off with Jersey barriers, the mayor said.

The new city budget includes money for benches, picnic tables and regular park maintenance, including emptying trash barrels and mowing grass. A private company will be hired to install and service dog waste receptacles, the mayor said. The city hopes to eventually install a canoe or kayak launch at the river’s edge, he said.

Fiorentini said he is counting on the help of residents who live near the rest area to help keep “the criminal element” from returning.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
News

Photos of the Week
Stocks