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Haverhill

June 3, 2014

GAR Park to get playground, rink

$250,000 in improvements planned for spot near downtown

HAVERHILL — The city’s most visible park with the odd name will get a major makeover bringing a playground and an area for winter ice-skating.

GAR Park, short for Grand Army of the Republic Park, will receive $250,000 in improvements thanks to a state grant and some federal money.

The park is off Main Street, just north of downtown and across from the public library.

Work is set to begin this summer and includes the installation of a playground near the bandstand, as well as new benches, fencing, flowers, shrubs and an irrigation line for watering grass.

A section of the southwestern side of the park is to be graded and leveled so that a portable ice-skating rink can be set up there during the winter. A concrete path through the park will be removed and replaced with grass.

Vincent Ouellette, the city’s human services director, said the majority of work will be on the southern side of the property, near the bandstand and the Korean War veterans monument. Ouellette said the entire park needs “some TLC.”

“The light posts are rusted and the benches are in rough shape,” he said. “We also need an irrigation system to keep it looking lush as people drive by on Main Street.”

Ouellette said the park is heavily used during the summer by church groups and other organizations that hold outdoor concerts and other family-oriented events there on weekends.

The city has had problems with homeless people congregating in the park. Ouellette said anyone is welcome in the park, but that the improvements should make it less desirable for vagrants.

The older, historic north side of the park contains the GAR monument to veterans who served in the Union Army and Navy during the American Civil War. The other side of the park contains the Korean War memorial and bandstand, which were added in the 1970s during Urban Renewal.

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