HAVERHILL — City leaders said they are eager to hear the public’s reaction to proposals for improving Winnekenni Park, including charging an admission fee to maintain the city’s largest and busiest recreational area.
The park, a 700-acre property boasting miles of multi-use trails, Plug Pond swimming area and Haverhill’s famous Medieval-style castle on the hill, sees hundreds of visitors on a typical summer day and is well-used throughout the year.
City Councilor Thomas Sullivan has developed what he calls a comprehensive plan for restoring and improving the park. He pitched the plan to the council and Mayor James Fiorentini last week.
Yesterday, Councilor William Macek said his Natural Resources and Public Properties Committee will host a meeting April 11 to hear reaction from residents and city department heads about the plan. He said Vincent Ouellette, head of the city’s Recreation Department, and Conservation Officer Robert Moore are among those invited to the meeting, which is at 7 p.m. in the council’s City Hall office.
“Hopefully after the meeting we’ll have a better idea of what people want and what they don’t like about my plan,” Sullivan said. “Then we can go after a grant to pay for some of it.”
Sullivan said the mayor and others he has discussed his plan with are less enthusiastic about charging an admission fee.
“No one wants to talk about the fee, but I still think a small fee is a good idea to pay for upkeep,” Sullivan said. “We need at least a small source of revenue.”
Sullivan’s plan identifies a number of ideas for how to pay for improvements to the park, pond and castle, including state grants and the user fee — $5 per season for residents and $10 for others. He proposes stationing someone at the park’s front entrance in summer months only to collect the fee between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.