The City Council plans to discuss the matter at its meeting tonight at 7 in City Hall.
Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien said she put the matter on the agenda after receiving many calls and emails from residents upset about all the trees that were removed from the forest at the popular city-owned park, which has hundreds of acres.
Haverhill Conservation Agent Rob Moore and the city’s forest management consultant (New England Forestry Consultants) is expected to brief the council on the tree-cutting project at tonight’s meeting.
As part of the city’s Forest Management Plan, tree cutting and harvesting began last month at the Winnekenni Park Conservation Area. Officials said the work is about 75 percent complete. The rest of the cutting will take place at a later date, officials said.
Last October, the city invited the public to a meeting at Winnekenni Castle in the park. The meeting included a site walk of the woodland area proposed for hemlock tree removal. Officials said that only four members of the public showed up, not including members of the city’s Forestry Management Committee.
Timber removed from the property was sold through competitive bidding to Hopkinton Forestry & Land Clearing Inc. of Henniker, N.H., the same company the city hired to harvest trees at Clement Farm last summer. The company used heavy equipment to thin out the forest at the city-owned farm on upper Main Street to make it healthier. In trade for doing the work, the company took most of the trees it cut.
The company also paid the city about $11,000 and provided Haverhill with timber that was sold at auction at the Highway Department yard on Primrose Street.
Moore said the same company is removing trees at Winnekenni Park at no cost to the city and, in addition, is paying the city $11,000 for the timber. He said the money will go into site stabilization measures and to cover the costs of having the city’s consultant closely watch the operation.