hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA


June 19, 2014

Compromise needed for Kimball Farm's future


The success of KidsFEST, which drew 6,000 to 8,000 visitors, shows that Kimball Farm is capable of hosting events of that scale without disrupting the neighborhood.

Similarly, last year’s Foam Fest drew 7,500 participants without any problems. The senior police officer at the event wrote that the event was well organized with no traffic problems or “rowdy” elements. The council denied a permit for the Foam Fest event this year.

“We hosted our event at Kimball Farm last year and had over 7,500 people there and had no traffic problems,” Ryan Cook, a representative of the company promoting Foam Fest, said in an email to The Eagle-Tribune. “It’s unfortunate that the city is considering us the same as ‘Color Me Rad’ when clearly our model works. It’s a case of throwing out the baby with the bath water.”

These non-agricultural events are a way to keep Kimball Farm functioning. The events are being held under a pilot program with the state Department of Agricultural Resources. The Kimballs had previously sold the development rights to the farm, which has been in the family since 1820, to the state as a part of a program to preserve operating farms.

Too many farms have been lost already to development. If it takes a few of these nontraditional events each year to keep a working farm from being carved up into house lots, that seems to us a fair trade.

Clearly, no one wants a repeat of the traffic disaster associated with the “Color Me Rad” event. But the success of other, similarly sized events shows Kimball Farm can host them without incident. It just takes careful planning and execution.

Rather than withdraw into hardened camps of opposition, we’d like to see the City Council work with one of the community’s oldest families to hash out a compromise that preserves the rights and interests of everyone and allows for future events at the farm. Surely that’s better for all than a bitter battle in a court of law.

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