Councilors Put Brakes on City’s $22.9 Million Capital Improvement Plan

Haverhill City Concilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien.

Haverhill city councilors want further discussions with Mayor James J. Fiorentini on future spending under a five-year, $22.9 million city capital improvement plan.

While approving an amended $326,300 fund transfer this year for snow removal equipment and easement payments associated with a downtown boardwalk extension, councilors approved a motion by councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien to hold a council-mayor conference with Fiorentini. The motion, seconded by Councilor Michael S. McGonagle, was made as several councilors, including William J. Macek, suggested capital spending in future years should be part of the annual budget process.

City Councilor William J. Macek.

City Councilor William J. Macek.

“I think there will be new needs that maybe he didn’t think about in this one. Everybody’s got things in there like a new fire truck, rolling money for replacing fire apparatus. And I think it’s really comprehensive but none of us really has a crystal ball to look five years ahead,” Macek said. “I think he’s tried and I think… we really can’t even approve, with tacit approval now, for five years because it’s going to change. It’s going to bend and flex and I think we should address the (fiscal year 2016) request and then beyond that we should set it aside until budget time.”

Council President John A. Michitson said the city needs to figure out its priorities. For example, he pointed out residents in the Acre section place higher priority on sidewalks over items such as public safety or illegal drugs.

Council President John A. Michitson.

Council President John A. Michitson.

“If you talk to a lot of the citizens that live in the Acre, surprisingly they’ll tell you that is their number one issue – sidewalks,” Michitson said. “And the reason is they want to take pride in their neighborhood. It comes down to that, in fact I believe they’re going to get on the agenda in the next couple weeks to discuss that. But I was surprised, I would have thought that they would have said public safety, drugs, some of the other issues that they have. But sidewalks, that’s what they want.”

As for the current fiscal year, councilors unanimously approved spending $249,500 on new and refurbished snow removal apparatus, including a $150,000 “high functioning” snow removal truck and front end blower, $40,000 to retrofit an existing front end loader with a mounted snow blower, $35,000 for a new one ton truck. Also councilors approved the city’s $16,500 increase to an $8,000 item for a pre-storm “blue light” alert system to notify surrounding residents to park off-street, including the use of school parking lots. An additional $76,800 will be used for easement costs for Merrimack Street properties affected by a northerly shift of Wall Street for construction of a new river boardwalk extension between the Landmark building and Haverhill Bank.

One item omitted from the original $434,800 transfer request, a $125,000 expenditure for the rail trail project on the Bradford side of the river, is expected to go before the council as early as next week, according to Fiorentini’s Chief of Staff David S. Van Dam.

One thought on “Councilors Put Brakes on City’s $22.9 Million Capital Improvement Plan

  1. How many times times does it have to be asked: Does The City of Haverhill have a Master Plan? A 3, 5, 10 and 25 year forecast of what the needs of the city are based upon feedback from department heads?

    Bill Macek…of course flexibility is needed, but what’s the point of having department heads if they don’t have the expertise to accurately project future needs. It turns into a yearly boondoggle of where money should be spent and where its going to come from. But Bill, this isn’t your fault…this is mayor Failurentini’s inability to be a professional manager. It’s you councilors who have to deal with the results of him being a total amateur. This is what citizens of this city get for electing him time after time.