EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 7, 2013

City to get water park, public garden

$572K to improve city-owned Tattersall Farm

By Shawn Regan

---- — HAVERHILL — City residents in the North Broadway area near the New Hampshire line will get a community garden and water playground — a place where families can cool off on hot summer days.

Plans are in the works to build the garden and playground at Tattersall Farm — a 150-acre, city-owned property on North Broadway.

Mayor James Fiorentini said he plans to ask City Council for $572,000 for improvements that also include an outdoor learning center, new recreational trails and more parking. The work will end up costing the city only $50,000, however.

That’s because the state is pitching in $389,000 and $50,000 is coming from the Tattersall Farm Charitable Trust, the mayor said. The final $83,000 will be covered by various private and public groups, including the city’s water and sewer departments, in the form of service and labor donations, Fiorentini said.

The mayor said this will be the first and only public playground in the city’s rural northwestern corner.

“There are no schools and no playgrounds in this part of the city, and many people up there don’t have city water and sewer,” Fiorentini said. “Many people who live up there feel alienated from the rest of the city, so I’m excited to finally be able to bring them a playground.”

The water playground, also called a splash park, will feature sprinklers in the ground activated by people stepping on pedals, spraying water for children and others to run through. The community garden will allow residents to have their own areas to do plantings.

City Council gave general approval to the project this week by authorizing the mayor to accept the state money and to make the improvements. The mayor must return to the council later for approval to spend the money involved.

“The main focus (of the project) is to increase the available space on the farm to adequately provide for the public’s agricultural utilization and to host major events, activities and educational programming,” according to the grant proposal for state funding of the project.

The farm dates back to 1757 when the farmhouse was built by the Haseltine family. The farm was owned and operated by the Tattersall family for most of the 20th century until the last surviving family member, Mary Alice Tattersall, died in 1999.

Mary Alice and two of her sisters, Harriett and Helen, were longtime public school teachers in Haverhill and Methuen. They were known for inviting residents to the farm for tea, according to the property’s history.

Upon her death, Mary Alice Tattersall’s estate donated the property to the city with several restrictions to its use, including that the farm be preserved and maintained as closely as possible to its historical appearance and condition.

The sprawling site currently features 19th century plantings, working hay fields, rolling meadows and wooded paths used for walking, jogging and cross-country skiing, according to the farm’s website.

The property, which is open to the public, is managed by the Tattersall Farm Charitable Trust.

The trust is primarily responsible for protecting wildlife on the property and educating visitors on farming and environmental conservation.

The trustees have hosted an annual farm day in the fall for the past six years. Past events have focused on teaching visitors about New England farm life and its cultural and historical influence on the city.

The most recent event featured animal and farming demonstrations, storytelling, art and crafts, pony and hay rides, hot air balloon rides and antique tractor displays.

Tattersall Farm improvements Playground with splash park Community or public gardens Outdoor running area Expanded trails More parking