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June 4, 2014

Traffic 'disaster' ends Kimball Farm events

This weekend's KidsFEST will be the last large event there for a while

HAVERHILL — Last weekend was a bad time for the promoters of large events at Kimball Farm to have their worst parking debacle.

Police said traffic was backed up several miles Saturday morning as hundreds of vehicles lined up attempting to enter the East Broadway property for the Color Me Rad race, preventing residents in the area from exiting their driveways by automobile. Traffic was backed up all the way to Route 110 and Interstate 495 more than three miles away, police said. Officials used words such as “crisis,” “disaster” and “nightmare” to describe the scene at last night’s City Council meeting.

Councilors have been keeping a close eye on events at the farm in the wake of neighborhood complaints and police concerns about the escalating size of events at the rural location. They are in the process of making new rules increasing the city’s ability to control the size, frequency and other aspects of large public events in the city.

Mayor James Fiorentini said he began receiving phone calls Saturday morning from angry neighbors and motorists while he was in New Jersey, and that he sent police Chief Alan DeNaro to the farm to see what was happening.

In a letter to the council, DeNaro said the situation was so bad that he would not support future events at the farm.

“For these events to truly be successful, they must not only be beneficial to those obtaining a profit, but also provide minimal impact on neighboring residents and travelers in and around the area,” the chief said in his letter. “The problems caused by events of this magnitude far outweigh any benefits to Haverhill.”

Lt. Robert Pistone told councilors last night that emergency personal such as fire trucks or ambulances would not have been to able to reach the area had there been a fire, accident, altercation or other emergency. Pistone stressed that roads surrounding Kimball Farm weren’t designed to handle so much traffic at one time.

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