After a heavy rain storm nearly washed away the public boat ramp next to the new Washington Landing Park, Haverhill received state money for repairs that should provide a permanent fix, Mayor James Fiorentini said.
But construction of the park has caused tension between the city and Crescent Yacht Club, whose members formerly parked their boat trailers where the park is located.
The city built the park, which features playground equipment for neighborhood children, about a month ago on land near the yacht club and boat ramp. Club members said they formerly parked their vehicles and trailers on the land after launching their boats at the ramp. They said the playground takes away that parking area. They are angry about the situation, and one club member said they will no longer help maintain the boat ramp as they have in the past.
Repairs to the ramp were previously done voluntarily by club members. Members would repair the ramp and mow the grass around the area to keep it clean. That was all before the city built the new playground.
“They just decided that they would throw the playground there,” said Dave Goodwin, a member at the yacht club. “There isn’t any room for it where it is. For people who come to use their boats, there is now nowhere to park their trailers. If you launch your boat, you then have to drive your car away because there isn’t anywhere to park.”
David Van Dam, the mayor’s chief of staff, said there is still room for people to park in the area.
“There’s no parking issue,’’ he said. “There is room for trailers. The park took up only a little bit of the area, but it didn’t cut into the storage area.”
Goodwin said now that the city has taken control of the area, the yacht club is leaving all maintenance up to city workers.
“There is no incentive to do that anymore,” Goodwin said. “It’s a Catch 22. “If we didn’t maintain that area in the first place, I don’t even know if the city would have put the park there.”
Fiorentini said the state has given the city a grant of $10,000, which should insure that the boat ramp will be able to endure heavy storms in the future.
“This is the busy season down at the boat ramp and we want to make sure the repairs are completed quickly,” Fiorentini said.
Van Dam said the work to be done with the grant money must be approved by the city’s Conservation Commission. Once that happens, the city should complete the repairs within 30 days, he said.
Goodwin said the yacht club formerly fixed the ramp once or twice a year because of sewage overflow that would wash onto the gravel ramp and create a large hole. Van Dam said that the planned repairs will provide a more permanent fix.
The city is planning to remove all debris, expose all the concrete boat ramp slabs, install rocks to prevent erosion along the ramp, lay down hot top, and create water runoff in problematic washout areas, the mayor’s office said. The hot top will cover the entire boat ramp, the office said.
“The access ramp has a lot of boat activity, so it probably won’t last forever,” Van Dam said. “But this is designed to be more permanent rather than temporary.”
Goodwin said he has doubts about the project.
“What they say and what they do is often different when it comes to these kind of repairs,” he said.
The state Department of Fishing and Boat Access will do the repairs. The work was supposed to start Monday, pending the approval of the Conservation Commission.