Council Candidate Vargas Seeks to Boost Neighborhood Groups

Haverhill City Council Candidate Andy Vargas is distributing a flyer, outlining his neighborhood plan.

Haverhill City Council Candidate Andy Vargas is distributing a flyer, outlining his neighborhood plan.

Haverhill City Council candidate Andy Vargas wants to restore the city’s once vast array of neighborhood associations.

Neighborhood groups help promote voter turnout, civic engagement and serve as “drivers of public service and responsibility to our community,” Vargas said in a release. He has outlined a plan where city councilors would be assigned to one or more revived associations.

“Our neighborhoods have continued to face several challenges, including: crime, environmental issues, and negligent landlords. If you take a look at Haverhill history, neighborhood associations and civic groups were the drivers of public service and responsibility to our community. These associations are slowly making a comeback,” he said.

His plan would help reinvigorate neighborhood groups by having at least one city councilor permanently assigned to each association, attending meetings and serving as a contact and liaison between the group and city. Further, he would have the city provide formal space (parks, library, etc.) for neighborhood meetings; conduct “pop-up” city halls in different areas of the city, where the full city council would schedule at least one of its meetings annually; and earmark a portion of annual federal Community Development Block Grants to neighborhood needs. Vargas said his plan would cost no additional money.

Vargas said he has met with several residents who previously led neighborhood groups or are currently working towards establishing one. During those meetings, he said, he heard resident grievances and such comments as, “Neighborhood groups used to be a great asset” or “People don’t even know their neighbors anymore.” He said he was most concerned by comments such as, “I don’t feel like my neighborhood matters to the city.”

3 thoughts on “Council Candidate Vargas Seeks to Boost Neighborhood Groups

  1. Andy, I know you mean well, but your pie in the sky view of a socialist Utopian community just doesn’t play well in the real world, especially in Haverhill. Look no further than the neighborhood group in the past couple of years that wanted to reopen the Rt. 110 rest area that the mayor closed. They formed a group that wanted to reopen it and were very organized with many people prepared to do all the cleanup and future maintenance of the area, with not cost at all to the city. Do you remember what happened? They were met by strong resistance by a tyrannical liberal democrat mayor who fought them on opening it for a couple of years. When the mayor finally agreed to it he had the nerve to turn around and take credit for all ‘their’ efforts in his annual state of the city address. That’s what being a community organizer gets you in this city.

  2. Vargas is right. But, if the charter was changed, as it should be, to require ward representation, then this effort would not be needed. Haverhill must change the way it does business. The only reason the current council won’t do it is because some of them would have to run against each other ! Oh what fun that would be. We would have 7 little elections within an election. Imagine some of these people having to be held accountable for their actions…or better said…non-actions ?