City Council Advances Downtown River Boardwalk

A similar riverfront boardwalk below Washington Street.

Haverhill city officials propose to extend a 2012 loan for improvements to the Merrimack River flood wall downtown to accommodate oversight of the Harbor Place project and construction of a boardwalk extension.

During a suspension of the rules, Haverhill city councilors Tuesday night placed on file for two weeks an amendment to a $6.1 million loan order passed in November, 2012, for flood control improvements to the wall behind Merrimack Street. It included preparations to construct a new portion of the river boardwalk on top of it. The proposed amendment, to “permit expenditure of funds appropriated thereunto to pay cost of a project manager for the work related to the project known as Harbor Place, including all costs incidental and related thereunto,” would bring in engineering company AECOM as boardwalk construction manager. It would also “review other invoices generated by the Harbor Place project.” Haverhill Economic Development and Planning Director William Pillsbury told councilors it is the next stage in the flood wall project and AECOM is “the right group” for construction management.

“The flood wall project was envisioned and designed, as you all know, to raise the level of the flood wall but at the same time it was designed to incorporate and receive the new boardwalk, which is actually part of the Harbor Place project and beyond—going down towards Haverhill Bank,” Pillsbury said. “We’re at that very important stage and very positive phase now that we’re going to build it. And we need to make sure that we oversee the construction. And so this particular expenditure will be specifically for construction management services from AECOM, who is the designer. They’re the right group to have do this because they designed it and they’re the best suited to inspect it as it’s built.”

No discussion was raised on a reported $130,000 loan surplus which Mayor James J. Fiorentini proposed to re-allocate to “extend and amend” a contract with AECOM to “provide oversight and review of millions of dollars of construction invoices generated by the boardwalk and the Harbor Place project.”

The proposed bond order amendment is also subject to approval by the city’s bond counsel.