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February 5, 2013

Wanted: Sculptures for river trail

Plan calls for art work to dress up walkway

HAVERHILL — It’s nice to have a walking and biking path along the Merrimack River in the center of the city, but not enough for some residents.

They want the city’s Rail Trail to have an artistic touch for the neighbors and visitors who use it.

Other communities have rail trails that feature displays of public art. Now the Team Haverhill volunteer group wants to do the same for the Bradford Rail Trail. At its annual Possible Dreams community brainstorming event last week, Team Haverhill rolled out a set of goals for 2013-2014, including an “Art Walk” for the trail. Members of the volunteer group will work with the city, the Friends of the Bradford Rail Trail and design firms to integrate three to five top-quality permanent sculptures into the trail design.

The half-mile walking and biking path between the Basiliere and Comeau bridges on the Bradford side of the river opened in July 2011. Future plans are to extend it along a corridor stretching to Georgetown, which was once traveled by trains, and also to enhance the trail’s beauty and accessibility.

Team Haverhill President Alice Mann said artists will be selected to create sculptures for the rail trail either by a direct commissioning of works or through an art competition.

“We’re raising funds for this project now and one of the sources will be our gala auction this fall,” Mann said. “Pentucket Bank will be the sole business sponsor, as they’ve committed to this.”

Local metal sculptor Dale Rogers is working with Team Haverhill to help it develop a “Call to Artists,” a sort of request for proposals, to ensure the group gets the best quality designs possible.

“We expect that call to go out mid-year,” Mann said.

Team Haverhill members Tim Jordan and Rebecca York are heading a committee in charge of helping to select the artwork and raise money for the project.

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