HAVERHILL — The $1.2 million renovation of Swasey Field was supposed to be done by now, allowing children to play baseball on a new diamond and cool off at a water park.
The project at the 14-acre field was also to provide walking paths for neighbors of the surrounding inner-city Mount Washington neighborhood.
But because heavy rains earlier in the year washed away grass seed planted at the park in the final phase of the project, the city is unable to open the park to the public.
City officials said the rain washed away seed that was planted in a section of the park where water spray devices were installed for the water park. By the time the remaining seed took hold, hot weather sparked the growth of weeds. Bare spots were left as well.
“There are still areas where the grass has not grown,” said Vincent Ouellette, the city’s recreation director. “If we accept the park the way that it is, we void the warranty. And once we open it we have to accept the whole park, not a section of it.”
Under construction since last year, the rebuilt section of the park includes a new spray park, walking paths, benches, a new baseball diamond and other amenities. Temporary fencing surrounds the area and signs are posted for no trespassing. Ouellette said the fencing cannot be taken down until the city accepts the $1.2 million project as being completed.
“The contractor still has responsibility for the park because the grass has not fully grown,” Ouellette said. “They have the responsibility of care and upkeep until the park is accepted by the city.
“We could always opt to say we’ll take our chances and open the park, but the responsibility would then lie with the city and if damages happened and the city would have to make repairs and reseed,” Ouellette said. “Right now it’s the contractor’s responsibility.”