All posts by Ryan Nacy, News Editor

Getting to know Kenoza Lake

As students and faculty make their way to the Haverhill campus each day, they’re greeted by the familiar sight of Kenoza Lake glistening in the sun as they drive past Winnikini Park off of Route 110.

While it can become easy to get used to such a beautiful sight, few people know just how central a role Kenoza Lake plays within the city of Haverhill and what problems it faces as the threat of water pollution looms it’s head.

Kenoza Lake serves another purpose beyond the asethetic; for more than a hundred years the lake has also served as a reservoir and one of Haverhill’s main supplies of fresh water. While beautiful, Kenoza Lake’s real contribution is the clean source of drinking water it’s provided over the decades. While the Merrmiack River has been grossly polluted as a result of illegal waste discharage and sewage overflow, Kenoza has remained relatively untouched. Despite this, the long term health and sustainability of the Kenoza Reservoir could pose a major threat in the coming years

The long term safety of the drinking water supply has been a concern in recent decades as well, with some noting the water treatment plant adjacent to the lake is now nearly 40 years old. While it’s inevitable that these facilities must eventually be replaced, the city has given no indication that it plans to make any adjustments to the wastewater treatment plant as of now.

While some might underscore the concern, the safety of Kenoza Lake and Haverhill’s other reservoirs will continue to grow as a topic of concern among residents fearing an unsafe drinking water supply. Although the city has spent a great amount of time attempting to alter it’s sewer system to protect Lake Kenoza, the reservoir can become vulnerable to elevated bacteria levels following bad weather. While these problems have been staved off with the help of dams and barriers so far, it’s possible the same issue could arise again in the future and greatly damage the city’s water supply.

The neglect shown to the neighboring Winnikinni Castle has also helped damage the prestige of Kenoza Lake. The city itself recognized this while attempting to earn a state grant for the renovation of the area. Until significant improvements can be made to the surrounding area, it’s likely the public will continue to ignore the problems posed by Kenoza Lake until its water supply is endangered. While we may not give the attention and care it deserves, Kenoza Lake has played a crucial role over the history of the cities existence. Local John Greenleaf Whittier immortalized it in at the opening of the park on August 31, 1859:

“Kenoza! o’er no sweeter lake
Shall morning break or noon-cloud sail,–
No fairer face than thine shall take
The sunset’s golden veil.G

Haverhill plans multimillion construction project in a rural neighborhood

A new development project has brought out mixed emotions among local residents. Joseph’s Trattoria is currently occupying the lot at 145 Oxford Ave. off of Route 125 in Haverhill, though with news of a multimillion dollar construction project on the horizon this will all soon change.

The Haverhill City Council recently voted unanimously on Nov. 10 to approve plans by the owners of Joseph’s Trattoria to construct a retail and residential complex set to include two hundred residential units, private event space, a newly built restaurant, and several new retail spaces.

The family that owns Joseph’s have already constructed a similar development in Salem, New Hampshire, with more than 20 million dollars being invested to construct the shopping plaza connected to an adjoining 74 unit residential community.
There are also plans to construct an artisan grocery store similar to the Tuscan Market also in Salem New Hampshire. Its estimated tax revenue from the complex could bring in an additional $270,000 a year in revenue for the city of Haverhill, if everything goes as planned.

Mayor James Fiorentini of Haverhill published a letter in support of the project, saying the development will help create a walkable shopping center for local residents, calling the project ‘One of the finest developments to come to this city in some time.”

While some are enthusiastic about the potential new economic opportunities might have, others are more wary when it comes to the impact it’ll have on the surrounding community.

Critics have suggested that the city’s infrastructure might not be up to par to support such a massive community, with potential plumbing and water pressure issues being discussed as a potential problem in the future.
Civil Engineer Rick Friberg identified several key issues city officials and residents had with the project at the city council meeting on Nov. 1.

Several people have already voiced their concerns regarding impact the village will have on local roadways and traffic safety, though city officials have attempted to quell these concerns with plans for additional traffic lights and sidewalk installation in place to deal with the increased traffic the project will bring.

Some residents are unhappy with the potential additional traffic to their neighborhoods and fear the project could make what was once a quiet community far more crowded than they’d hoped for.

Crescent Farms owner Mike Davidowicz questioned at the Nov. 1 City Council meeting how the city planned to increase the availability of water in the area, which is already an ongoing issue in the neighborhood.

He stressed the importance of being cautious when it comes to new development projects that might negatively impact unoccupied land in Haverhill, especially considering Crescent Farms has been in operation for nearly a century.
“We preserved our land and we want it to remain open space. It’s kind of like The OJ case,” he said in reference to the construction plan, “the glove just doesn’t fit here.”

It’s still unclear whether or not local residents and the property developers plan to work out an arrangement as the start date for construction on the new property looms closer and closer.

Only yesterday: A look back at NECC and its legacy over 60 years

 When Northern Essex Community College opened its doors in 1961, few would’ve expected the former schoolhouse would one day morph into two sprawling campuses, with an enrollment of nearly 4,000. Northern Essex Community College was one of only four community colleges in Massachusetts when it was founded and its inaugural class only had a student body of 186, the vast majority being male.

While Northern Essex Community College has remained, the world it began in has changed profoundly in the decades since its founding.

The experiences of its students in those interweaving decades have varied widely as the college has expanded and its course catalog has grown larger and larger.

While their experiences may not be universal, they can help us understand the history and greater purpose of Northern Essex Community College and how we might wish to move forward in the future. 

When Northern Essex first moved to its current Kenoza Lake one would be hard pressed to recognize the campus we see today.

According to the NECC website, there were four buildings open in time for the Fall 1971 semester; The Fitness Center, the Science Building, the Science Building, and the Spurk Building. The parking lot was still mostly unpaved, which proved problematic for students looking to commute; with The Observer at the time even lampooning the situation with an article entitled “Mud Pies. 

While today Northern Essex Students have dozens of programs to choose from, there were only six degrees available to students at the time. Slowly the Northern Essex Student Body started to shift from mostly 18 to 19 year old high school graduates to adults looking to further their career opportunities , along with other nontraditional students outside of the typical ‘fresh out of college’ demographic. 

Around this time, Mary Burke (NECC 85’) began to pursue a career in medicine and enrolled in the Nursing Program. “It was completely different from the first time I tried at college, it was much more hands-on,” she remarked on her experience in the nursing program in 1984, which had just seen an expansion around the same time after receiving Title III grants from the federal government. Burke, of Haverhill,  credits the firsthand experiences she received in the Northern Essex Nursing Program with her later success in the nursing field.

“Once I started at the hospital I realized a lot of the nurses who’d graduated from four year schools were nowhere as prepared as we were,” she said.

She looks back fondly on the changes she witnessed in higher education from her first attempt at a degree in the mid 1970s.

“College was too abstract for me the first time around. The classes were a lot more confusing, and really irrelevant to what you actually wanted to do for a living. By the time I went back I wanted something that would teach me how to be a nurse, I wasn’t really interested in anything else.” Burke continues to work as a nurse today. 

The wide array of people who’ve attended Northern Essex Community College over the years can serve as reminders of where Northern Essex Community College grew out of and where it might hope to grow in the future.

Women have gone from being a fraction of the student body to the majority (65 percent), and while most students were once fresh out of high school, today 30 percent of enrolled students are over 26, according to the website.  Though 60 years is trivial compared to the centuries some of its more established rivals have been open, these accounts can help us put into perspective just how many lives have been changed over the decades and the progress Northern Essex Community College continues to make as the years go by.

Though ‘Harvard on the Kenoza’ has long served as a demeaning moniker of sorts, it might not be far off in the minds of the community it serves.