After languishing unused for more than a decade, the picturesque Hannah Duston rest area on a secluded stretch of River Street in Haverhill is once again welcoming visitors.
The small park, just a few feet from the Methuen town line, was closed in 1998 after it became a gathering place for troublemakers. Its rebirth reflects the city’s renewed commitment to restoring its parks and playgrounds, from roadside respites to Winnekenni Park, the largest and most popular of Haverhill’s recreational areas.
About $175,000 is dedicated to park and playground improvements in Mayor James J. Fiorentini’s $162.6 million spending plan for this fiscal year, including $120,000 that has been earmarked for work at Riverside and Winnekenni parks and the Plug Pond area. Those funds will be used to renovate restrooms, install new playground equipment and park benches, and better maintain the facilities, the mayor said.
“This year’s budget includes the greatest influx of resources geared toward parks and playgrounds that I’ve seen,” said Vincent Ouellette, who has served as Haverhill’s recreation director for 25 years, noting that the city earmarked just $25,000 for its parks and playgrounds last fiscal year.
At the Hannah Duston rest area, named in honor of a Colonial woman who was kidnapped by Native Americans and reportedly landed her canoe at the site after escaping her captors, dense brush has been trimmed to provide views of the waterway and picnic tables have been installed; security cameras will soon be added.
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