Council Delays Action on No Bid Downtown Sewer Project

A proposed no bid sewer line replacement project before Haverhill city councilors was withdrawn by the administration Tuesday night, and delayed at least two weeks.

The emergency Merrimack Street sewer line replacement—the result of “an unknown and unforeseen problem” near the Harbor Place construction project—was placed on file for two weeks at the request of Mayor James J. Fiorentini. Attempts to reach Fiorentini or Chief of Staff David S. Van Dam were not successful by news deadline.

Without discussion, councilors voted unanimously to delay the order granting the Harbor Place contractor nearly $272,000 in construction-related city fee reductions in return for having its contractor undertake the sewer line replacement. City officials had said they were aware sewer lines to the former F.W. Woolworth department store and related buildings would be discontinued, but 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. The mayor said having the developer do the work would avoid project delays.

“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,” Fiorentini wrote councilors.

City Economic Development and Planning Director William Pillsbury Jr., who was scheduled to address the council on the matter, told WHAV Monday a planned disconnection of the Woolworth sewer line would also impact service to the others.

“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,” Pillsbury said.

According to Fiorentini, no additional money is available in a $19.3 million state MassWorks grant for the extra work.