Holiday Events Receive Approvals After Answering Council Concerns

Haverhill City Councilor Melinda E. Barrett.

Organizers of two upcoming holiday events in downtown Haverhill addressed city council concerns Tuesday night over residents being trapped downtown and venue changes.

The Haverhill City Council voted 8 to 0 to approve, pending departmental approvals, permit applications for the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce Downtown Christmas Stroll Sunday, Dec. 5, and the VFW’s 51st Annual Santa Parade Sunday, Nov. 22. However, Councilor Melinda E. Barrett inquired whether the chamber planned to provide shuttles for Phoenix Row residents. In response, Member Relations Coordinator Melissa Seavey said there was difficulty trying to obtain a vehicle, such as a golf cart, to use during the annual KidsFest earlier this year.

“It’s rather difficult in terms of insurance for getting a golf cart. We reached out to members of local golf courses and they weren’t able to allow us to use their carts off of their property. KidsFest, I have to say, we had thousands of there, for the most part I think it was very smooth and we’ll be doing a lot with resident notifications,” Seavey said.

Barrett, however, countered there are still access problems for downtown residents. “After KidsFest, I heard from some of the residents, mostly from Phoenix Row, that it is an inconvenience for them, that they couldn’t go to church or couldn’t get to their car.” She added, “It’s a great event and I certainly don’t want to block it. I just want you to be aware that is a huge inconvenience, especially for the elderly, if you live downtown.”

This year's VFW Santa Parade is scheduled to take place Sunday, Nov. 22, at 1 p.m.

This year’s VFW Santa Parade is scheduled to take place Sunday, Nov. 22, at 1 p.m.

VFW Santa Parade Chairman Daniel P. Plourde told councilors despite a recent closing of its Kenoza Avenue quarters over an unpaid utility bill, the group has every intention of moving the parade forward.

“We are sponsored by the VFW. They provide us with an office and a meeting space and we generally put on a fete at the end of the parade every year. Sadly, that looks like it won’t happen this year, but we still have every intention of moving forward with this parade. Some people have asked me, ‘What happened with the V? Is the parade cancelled?’ The parade is going on and I already spoke with officer (Paul) Malone and he seems to think there won’t be any problems,” Plourde said. “We’re going to put all the floats down at Academy Plaza. We have permission from Mr. DiBurro and I spoke to Paul Malone and he said he could make that work for us, which is fabulous.”

Councilor Robert H. Scatamacchia was absent from the meeting.

In other action, councilors approved one week postponements for action on proposed Payment In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT) agreement for a planned solar farm in the upper Hilldale Avenue industrial park; a net metering solar power agreement to benefit the water/wastewater division; and a compromise plan on downtown paid parking rates, including an ordinance amendment adding a council representative to the Central Business District Parking Commission.