Mayor Advances Merrimack Street Public Dining Area

Artist’s rendering of planned seating area.

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini is advancing plans to use a state grant to place plastic lawn furniture on the brick surface in front of the Merrimack Street parking deck.

The mayor released an artist’s rendering of the seating area in front of the Herbert H. Goecke Jr. Memorial Parking Deck, but omitted any reference to his original plan to locate food trucks there.

“New $6,000 grant we obtained from the state will turn this area in front of the parking deck into an area that people can sit and enjoy their lunch and will encourage artists and musicians to be there during the day,” Fiorentini said in an online post.

Fiorentini’s recent proposal to allow food trucks—as the city of Lawrence is doing with a similar grant—on the site remains under review by a Haverhill City Council subcommittee. The brick plaza, created during the Merrimack Street Urban Renewal Program sits on the southern end of the former Fleet Street right of way.

The artist’s concept shows benches, chairs and flower boxes near the Merrimack Street entrance to the parking garage. Chairs are also positioned above, atop the upper parking deck level. However, the drawing does not show any food trucks or other vendor carts. On May 26, an earlier proposal to amend the city’s “peddling and soliciting” ordinance to allow food truck vendors on the site was sent back to the city council’s Administration and Finance committee. At the time, the mayor’s Chief of Staff David S. Van Dam said the mayor hoped to designate the area between the parking deck and Pentucket Bank for food vendors.

Some, including Councilor Michael S. McGonagle, expressed concern about vendor trucks competing with downtown businesses while other commercial space, including those on Essex Street, have remained empty. McGonagle had said the idea was “insensitive.”

WHAV has placed calls to Van Dam, Fiorentini and City Councilor Colin F. LePage, administration and finance committee chairman. However they were not immediately available for further comment.


8 thoughts on “Mayor Advances Merrimack Street Public Dining Area

  1. They should think about cleaning up the parking garage before putting plastic lawn furniture to have people eat and sit at. The homeless use that as their bathroom, shit and piss all over the place. And they better bolt that furniture to the ground, or it won’t last a day.

  2. It is a good idea to use that area. Don’t know why we have to wait for a grant to do this. The money is peanuts compared to the landfill or the EPA mandate coming. Wait for this shoe to drop…yeow ! More unfunded mandates. But that’s ok, keep voting for the same people.

    It can be problematic though if you can’t keep the druggies out of there as we know happens now. As far as food trucks are concerned, Bad idea to compete with the small amount of food businesses there now. That will hurt them and I don;t know why anyone would do that as they struggle now to get traffic into their businesses.

  3. Commendable idea. Too bad there’s no reason to go downtown except to watch the homeless folks fight over the deposit bottles.

    And what’s with more plastic furniture? First every park gets plastic equipment and now Merrimack Street? Does the mayor-for-life have a plastic fetish or just a stockholder in the manufacturer?