Latest Ornsteen Heel Property Offer Before Council Tuesday

The City of Haverhill may have, according to Mayor James J. Fiorentini, a “serious offer” for the former Ornsteen Heel property on the Bradford side of the Merrimack River.

Fiorentini is scheduled to make an announcement before the Haverhill City Council during its regular meeting Tuesday night. In a letter to the council, Fiorentini did not identify the interested party, but said the offer “includes an offer to work with the city to build a trail and a park in that area.” Details of the proposal were not released prior to the meeting.

In a related matter, Fiorentini is asking the council to expand council representation on an evaluation committee, which is studying the offer, by two members. The mayor has nominated councilors William J. Macek and Mary Ellen Daly O'Brien, should they accept, to join councilor Thomas Sulllivan on that panel. A sale of the former Ornsteen property, held by the city for several decades, requires city council approval. The property had been previously put out to bid three times by the city.

In 2004, Merrimack Towers LLC was created and then managed by John H. Pearson Jr, former president of the failed Butler Bank, Lowell. It received Haverhill City Council and Zoning Board of Appeals permission in 2006 to construct 183 multi-family housing units at the former Ornsteen Heel manufacturing site on Railroad Avenue. The city took possession of the property earlier.

During a city council hearing Aug. 22, 2006, a frequent Pearson associate, Stephen J. Doherty, of Haverhill, testified in favor of the Merrimack Towers’ bid.

When the project did not commence the city began looking for a new developer last year. Merrimack Towers LLC was dissolved in 2009.

The Haverhill City Council meets at 7 p.m., Tuesday, in council chambers at Haverhill City Hall.