EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


June 4, 2014

Gateway park gets major makeover, playground

City councilors approve plan,but voice concerns about vagrants

HAVERHILL — It’s been neglected for decades, but GAR Park is about to get $250,000 in tender loving care.

City Council agreed last night to accept a state grant that will pay for most of the work at the city’s most visible park, which is off Main Street, just north of downtown and across from the public library. GAR is short for Grand Army of the Republic Park, a defunct fraternal group that advocated for Union Army and Navy veterans of the American Civil War.

Work in the park is set to begin as soon as next month and is to include 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.

There are six historical and war monuments in the park including the Korean War memorial. Part of the project includes refurbishing the monuments and installing signs explaining their significance.

As a condition of the state grant, the project must be concluded by the end of the calendar year, officials said.

Mayor James Fiorentini said the project is part of his plan for improving playgrounds and parks in the city. Swasey Park recently got a water spray playground and a dog-walking area was installed at Riverside Park, for instance.

Most of the work in GAR Park will be on the southern side of the property, near the Korean War veterans monument and the bandstand that was added in the 1970s during Urban Renewal. The older, historic north side of the park contains the GAR monument.

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