Updated: Council Agrees to Take First Step Toward Taking Merrimack St. Building

Building at 60 Merrimack Street under consideration for eminent domain taking.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to clarify City Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan does not own downtown property and, therefore, faced no limitation on his participation on the eminent domain question.

The Haverhill City Council Tuesday put the wheels in motion for a possible taking of a Merrimack Street building by eminent domain within the Harbor Place construction zone.

Six councilors voted in favor of a $3,500 fund transfer from a reserve account to pay for an appraisal of 56-66 Merrimack St, which currently houses Lahey Health Behavioral Services, 60 Merrimack St.

“We’re examining the potential taking of a building on Merrimack Street. We haven’t made a decision on that yet, but we’re looking at it and this is part of the process,” Haverhill City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr. said to councilors.

“Once we have the appraisal done, which should probably take us about 30 days to do that, then we’ll make a decision,” Cox added. “We would come back before you with an order for the taking. And then we would follow that process with an appropriation and we would take the building at that time.”

Cox reminded councilors they previously approved easements at the rear of the property to accommodate piling, access and utilities for Harbor Place.

“You did a taking with regards to an easement area in the rear of this building. If we do take the building then all of that would just merge and we’d have the entire property,” Cox said.

The city paid $10,000 in damages to property owner D. R. Locke LLC for those earlier takings last December. According to Cox, the adjacent parcel housing Angel Care Kids Therapy Center, 70 Merrimack St., is not part of the potential proceedings. Following the vote, Councilor William H. Ryan gave his support.

“I think with all of the input from the city, the state, everybody who is trying to get this beautiful structure built with the (University of Massachusetts, Lowell) coming down and all of the things happening, this is a very important vote tonight to make sure you have the authority and the support to go forward with this,” Ryan said.

Two city councilors who own Merrimack Street property, Councilors Melinda Barrett and Michael S. McGonagle, abstained from voting. Councilor Thomas Sullivan, who is a business owner, but not a property owner, voted yes. Barrett, McGonagle and Sullivan have abstained from voting on downtown parking issues because they hold city parking permits. Councilor Colin F. Lepage was absent. Lahey is considering moving some services next door and closing others as it leaves “the building in stages to accommodate development plans.”

Cox told WHAV Monday there has been no discussion with the owner of the property, D. R. Locke LLC, managed by Douglas R. and Patricia A. Locke of Boxford. The 60 Merrimack Street building currently is an island between portions of the $68 million Harbor Place project.

2 thoughts on “Updated: Council Agrees to Take First Step Toward Taking Merrimack St. Building

  1. Thank you to Tim Coco and WHAV….without them we wouldn’t even know about this theft.

    It’s something I forgot to mention about The Mob Boss, Taxman Forentini…..in mob like fashion he’s been able to silence The Eagle Tribune as they don’t even bother to report on this and most of his goings on.

  2. This whole Harbor Place project is playing out just like it would have on The Sopranos.
    ~There’s the fat Italian mob boss railroading anyone he sees fit in order to get what he wants…
    ~You’ve got the rubber stamp city councilor who act like bobble head dolls doing nothing to protect the rights of taxpayers and approving everything the Taxman asks for…
    ~There’s the union hacks who now announce ‘significant’ delays in construction…
    ~There’s the State Legislator defrauding adjacent property owners in order to close the deal….
    ~There are unmentioned upgrades the city is getting stuck with instead of the contractor….

    Isn’t that cute what Cox did by getting the previous easement first? Anyone want to bet there was no mention at that time to the property owners they’d be coming back for the entire building? And not one city councilor sees that they got played by Cox? When Cox ‘reminded’ them did even one councilor ask if Cox knew at that time that the city’s intent was to take the whole building in the future? I’m not joking when I ask how any of these elected officials show their faces in public. It’s disgraceful.

    But if you’re a business owner downtown you better keep quiet…Tony Soprano or some of his goons in the health department will pay you a visit and shut you up. That’s how the mob works…..