Council Asked to Trade Sewer Line Cost for Harbor Place Fees

“An unknown and unforeseen” problem with sewers on Merrimack Street is threatening to hold up progress on the $68 million Harbor Place project unless the city council agrees Tuesday night to forgo public bids and let the developer undertake the work.

The city was aware sewer lines to the former F.W. Woolworth department store and related buildings would be discontinued, but officials said they did not realize the same line serves the city-owned Herbert H. Goecke Memorial Parking Deck and the two Pentucket Bank buildings across the street.

“Once we got in the ground and saw what was connected to that line—because it is very, very old—it was determined that there was other buildings, particularly the parking garage and the two Pentucket Bank buildings on Merrimack Street which actually feed into this line and those have to have sewerage continued, obviously, so we can’t discontinue that line. The important thing is, really, to be able to connect these building up to this new section of sewer and to do it expeditiously so that we don’t have a negative impact on the progress of the Harbor Place schedule,” Haverhill Economic Development and Planning Director William Pillsbury told WHAV.

The older of the bank buildings is scheduled to be demolished for parking.

Instead of Bids, City to Trade with Developer for Sewer Work

Normally, the city would seek bids to replace the sewer line, but the Haverhill City Council will be asked Tuesday night to let developers do the work instead to save time. In exchange, the plan calls for the city reduce the developer’s building fees by nearly $272,000. Pillsbury is expected to address councilors on Mayor James J. Fiorentini’s request to reduce Harbor Place’s water/wastewater connection, engineering, stormwater and building permit fees by $271,952. According to Fiorentini, no additional money is available in a $19.3 million state MassWorks grant for the extra work.

“This matter must be resolved immediately or the Harbor Place project will not be able to proceed to the commencement of foundation installation. It has been determined by the water and wastewater (department) and all parties, that the most expeditious way for this to be resolved immediately is to have Harbor Place contractor, who is already mobilized in the field, commence the work immediately.”

Work is underway on a five-story commercial building—one of two associated with Harbor Place being—being developed by a consortium of the Greater Haverhill Foundation and the Boston Archdiocese’s Planning Office for Urban Affairs Inc. The other building is a proposed 80-unit housing complex.

Owners and tenants include UMass Lowell, second and third floors; Pentucket Bank, fourth floor; local accountant Randall Bennett, fifth and top floor; and Haverhill Community Television, a street-level corner condominium.

 Wall Street to be Discontinued

In a related matter, Pillsbury is asking the council to schedule a public hearing Aug. 25 on a formal discontinuance of Wall Street in the construction area. The Haverhill Planning Board will hold its own hearing on the action during its meeting Wednesday night.

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

5 thoughts on “Council Asked to Trade Sewer Line Cost for Harbor Place Fees

  1. Like I stated in my FB post, Mayor Jim should just go to his ask Rep. Dempsey, The Fish Family would be thankful I’m sure. The Fish Family own a lot of Haverhill already, what’s a little more cronyism/nepotism in a lawless state already?

    • I think the city is required, thru the paying of fees, to re-construct that sewer line. Normally, with projects of these types and scope, it is part of the ‘deal” that improvements are made to the surrounding infrastructure on their dime. I don’t think that is happening here as I have heard nothing about traffic improvements at that corner. Traffic is going to be a nightmare.

  2. Does any project here have or know where the resources are to plan a project like this. Stumble, fumble,and lose money in the process. Would it be cheaper to put it out for bid and have the difference be a net plus for the city?
    Another example of the “The taxpayers will take care of it” mentality here in Haverhill.

  3. I see what you did there. In other words, it is an end run around bid laws that protect taxpayers. So, what if the city received competitive bids and the cost is really only $30,000 for the 20 feet or so of sewer line? Seems like $240,000 in corporate welfare for the Greater Haverhill Foundation. I love that we will have new buildings, I just didn’t think the taxpayers would have to pay for it.