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June 19, 2014

Compromise needed for Kimball Farm's future

Kimball Farm in rural east Haverhill played host to a successful KidsFEST celebration two weekends ago.

There were no traffic problems reported from the Sunday event, which was a happy improvement over the traffic nightmare spawned by a May 31 event at the farm. Cars backed up for miles trying to get to the East Broadway farm for the “Color Me Rad” race that day. Traffic was backed up all the way to Route 110 and Interstate 495 more than three miles away, police said. Officials have used words such as “crisis,” “disaster” and “nightmare” to describe the scene. Residents in the neighborhood could not get into or out of their driveways.

Police Chief Alan DeNaro said in a letter to the City Council that the situation was so bad, he would not support future events at Kimball Farm. In response, the council denied permits to three upcoming events planned for the farm.

That decision angered Judy Kimball, longtime owner of Kimball Farm. She is considering legal action against the city.

“The city is taking away our right to get income from our property,” Kimball told reporter Shawn Regan. “I’m taking no more of this.”

Rather than such precipitous action as the council’s outright denial of permits for events and the threat of a legal response, perhaps the Kimballs and the council, as well as DeNaro and the farm’s neighbors, can get together and work out some kind of compromise that serves everyone.

Efforts in that direction happened this week, when the City Council reconsidered its previous denial of permits for the Foam Fest event at Kimball Farm. The council approved the event Tuesday night, after hearing about traffic and crowd controls planned by the farm. The event will happen Saturday. Still, two events originally planned for later this summer at the farm are up in the air.

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