EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

April 5, 2013

Editorial: City parks should never require a fee

Some Haverhill leaders want improvements and better maintenance at the city’s popular Winnekenni Park. Those are grand ideas. Charging an admission fee to access the park is not.

Winnekenni Park is a Haverhill gem appreciated by residents and nonresidents alike. The 700-acre property has miles of trails, Plug Pond swimming area and the famous castle on the hill from which the park takes its name. The park has hundreds of visitors on a typical summer day and is well-used throughout the year.

City Councilor Thomas Sullivan has a comprehensive plan for restoring and improving the park. He presented the plan to the City Council and Mayor James Fiorentini last week.

Sullivan’s plan begins with basic maintenance and extends to more imaginative ideas such as bringing castle-themed paddle boats to the basin or nearby Plug Pond. Sullivan suggests installing racquetball, badminton, volleyball and bocce courts near Plug Pond. He would improve the playground area near the park entrance and possibly add a water spray there. He suggests moving a popular winter sledding hill near the entrance away from the road that winds from the bottom of the property to the castle. Sullivan also wants to convert a vacant, city-owned home near the park entrance to a visitors center, meeting facility and rest-rooms.

Sullivan’s maintenance plans include work around the park entrance and trimming brush that blocks views of the park from Route 110. He wants to thin the forest in the park so that the castle can be seen from the highway and so nearby Kenoza Lake can be seen from the winding drive up the hill.

Councilor William Macek has scheduled a meeting of his Natural Resources and Public Properties Committee for April 11 to hear reaction from residents and city department heads about the plan. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the council’s City Hall office.

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