By John Lee Grant
About 15 Haverhill residents joined members of the Haverhill Conservation Commission and a consultant from Fuss & O’Neill in an investigative walk along the Little River on Wednesday.
As previously reported on WHAV, the city is looking into the ramifications of removing the Little River dam, allowing the river to revert back to its original state. Julianne Busa, senior project manager from Fuss & O’Neill, the company hired to oversee the dam removal as well as associated river dredging and tree planting, led the party along the shore of the river pointing out specific locations and answering questions. One of greatest concerns was, unsurprisingly, how the removal of the dam will affect the width and depth of the river.
“We anticipate that the finished channel, on average, would be about 20-21 feet wide. The depth will vary, obviously, with the season, but we’re designing it with a low-flow channel, an extra deep part in the middle, so that in low water, when it gets hot and dry, the width will shrink, but we will still have depth in the middle so that we still have access for kayaks and fish,” she said.
Busa, along with Conservation Commission Vice President and Community Liaison Ralph T. Basiliere and Environmental Health Technician Robert E. Moore Jr., brought residents to a few locations along the river including a spot directly behind Cashman Field where a pedestrian bridge will be located, linking to a walking path along the opposite side of the river.
Another location, also behind Cashman Field in the right-hand corner, is the site of a planned canoe and kayak dock.
Busa said the entire shore of the river is currently inundated with invasive species of plants. She said plans call for the removal of this vegetation to be replaced with up to 1,500 trees and shrubs, which will be monitored for up to three years by the Conservation Commission in order to keep the invasive plants from regaining a foothold.
Work is not expected to begin on the project until 2024 with a projected completion date of 2026.