Dead River Park Trestle Bridge:
Dead River Park
Revitalization Project moving ahead
The Berlin Reporter
November 4, 2015
BY JODY HOULE
BERLIN – A group of about 25 locals have teamed up with the city to revitalize Dead River Park and over the past few months the condition of the park has improved substantially.
Back in August, Berlin native Aimee Michaud took the initiative and made plans to get the community involved to help fix up the park that was dilapidated and vandalized. In a prior interview she expressed that the lack of maintenance and litter made the park an eye sore and took away from its natural beauty. She decided to do something about it. “It will take a group effort. Let’s create some hope and do something,” she said back in August.
Michaud started to hang out with some local kids in the park to set an example. She put together a group of local volunteers and planned a number of clean up sessions throughout September. The Public Works director, Mike Perreault jumped aboard as well as many other volunteers and donators. Thanks to their efforts the park looks better than it has in years. Moreover, known drug activity has stopped said Michaud.
Public Works donated mulch and city workers spent days clearing brush, pruning and landscaping, and repairing the benches. The department also placed a trash bin and supplied tools. Water Works donated loom. Berlin Market Place donated water for the volunteers and Smith and Town Printing donated flyers.
Michaud set up four full days of clean up and a group of 25 local volunteers put in about a total of 30 hours mulching, planting, raking, and picking up trash among other duties. Flower gardens were installed with perennials and herbs. The last cleanup day was on Friday, October 23 dedicated to raking up fallen leaves. Plans are being made to install picnic tables, fix up the playground equipment, and put up bird houses in the spring.
Sylvia Poulin and Annie Morton of the Berlin Main Street Program helped with designing the gardens and passing out flyers to the community. “They (Poulin and Morton) were drivers of this project,” said Michaud.
Michaud wants to have the quality of the water tested on the river which runs 3.5 miles with acres of wetlands. She also hopes to have events held there such as live music and cookouts and she is working to get local businesses involved for yoga and meditation sessions and classes from the Enriched learning Center. She said that the Rotary Club is also getting involved.
A few years ago the side walk was paved. The park provides trail access for OHRV riders. The White Mountain Ridge Runners snowmobile club and the NH Bureau of Trails are looking to get the walking bridge repaired. “The bridge will be rebuilt with railings and alcove seating which will be a great addition to Dead River Park,” said Assistant Trail Master Larry Gomes of the White Mountain Ridge Runners.
“The grant we applied for is a Federal Recreational Trails Program (RTP) grant that was approved last spring and the money was supposed to become available in July. But a new animal was added to the federal endangered species list and all RTP grants had to be reviewed for impacts. Since there was only one federal employee qualified to do this review, it took two months to complete. Then we were told that that the Federal Department of Transportation who administers RTP grants was implementing a new computer system in October so that delayed the release of funding until November.
We are hoping to hear from the NH Bureau of Trails this week that our RTP projects funds have been released. If that happens, we will start the bridge rebuild project right away. Unfortunately, if we start the project before the funds are officially released, then the grant will be rescinded.”
Another plan is to resolve the name change dilemma. Some sources claim the original name given to the river by the Abenaki Native Americans is “Plumpetoosuc” River; however, some other sources spell it “Peumpelusuck.” It is unclear when the name changed to Dead River and who renamed it. Pierre Lessard, who owns property on the river, suggested changing it to the original name earlier this summer.
Michaud plans on meeting with Community Development Director Pam Laflamme in the spring to put the name change on the agenda for a public hearing. Dead River Park is the current informal name; however, a veteran’s sign installed by the Boy Scouts years ago at the Cole Street entrance indicates that the park is named “Memorial Place II.” A public meeting in the spring will allow citizens to make name suggestions.
For more information and for anyone who wants to donate, volunteer or has any questions concerning the park, contact Aimee Michaud via her Facebook group page -- “Friends of the *Future* Plumpetoosuc River Park,” or call her at 603-915-6732.She can also be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.