Plug Pond Recreation Area Gets Approval From Tepid Haverhill ConCom For $600,000 Upgrade

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The Haverhill Conservation Commission has given lukewarm approval to a plan to improve the town’s Plug Pond recreation area.

Last January, city councilors approved the borrowing of $586,000 for the city’s contribution to the project on land adjacent to what is officially known as Lake Saltonstall. The expense will be offset by a $400,000 grant for the acquisition and renovation of state parks for communities. Ronald Headrick of Greenman Pederson Engineering told commissioners improvements will include installing a new playground, restoring the shoreline, reducing unused paved areas, improving trails and burying exposed power lines. .

Another planned change is the relocation of an existing fence, which was a bone of contention with some of the commissioners, including Vice President Ralph T. Basiliere.

“I think right now we all agree that the current fence looks like Guantanamo Bay and I disagree that we need to put a new fence there for some reason, including security,” he said.

Basiliere said other coastal areas of the city aren’t blocked off to the public and it shouldn’t be any different. Headrick explained that the recreation department requested that the fence remain.

“The Recreation Department believes that the fence is necessary. That when the beach is closed they need to be able to control the traffic there and I think what they were saying was they didn’t want it to become a dog park,” the consultant said. .

The Commission was less than enthusiastic about other proposed changes, including placing the playground facing the seafront, fearing it could be dangerous for young children.

Commissioner Fred Clark also questioned the availability of parking for fishermen bringing in trucks with trailers. Commission President Harmony Wilson summarized her issues with the proposed changes.

“I just think this project is a real missed opportunity. Plug Pond is a beautiful resource. It would have been nice to see the money put into something off the beaten path, maybe a jetty or really get into fishing there,” she said.

Despite their reluctance, the commissioners approved the project with a few recommendations, including pedestrian walkways in the fence to allow fishermen and others access after hours.

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