Council Advances Merrimack St. Demolition and Construction

While it was mostly a procedural matter, the Haverhill City Council moved forward Tuesday with plans for the Harbor Place development project on Merrimack Street.

Councilors unanimously approved the administration’s revised order of taking by eminent domain temporary and permanent easements for piling, access and utilities at the rear of 56-66 Merrimack St. The easements affect one of only two buildings between Main Street and the Landmark Building not purchased by developers. It houses North East Behavioral Health.

Exterior demolition of a row of buildings, beginning at the former Woolworth’s department store, is scheduled to begin Jan. 5.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini vetoed the original order and award of $10,000 in compensatory damages, passed by the council Nov. 18, out of technical concerns raised by City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr.

Cox told councilors some of the language in the order had to be narrowed.

“Some of the original language that you had on the order of taking came from a proposed easement agreement that we were trying to work out with the property owner. We weren’t successful in doing that, and I didn’t think that some of that language needed to be, or should be, in the order of taking,” Cox said.

To facilitate the revised order, the council upheld the mayor’s veto of the original order, and overrode a veto of the award as an updated appraisal affirmed the $10,000 as compensation for loss in value to property owner D. R. Locke LLC of Boxford.