City Councilors Approve Immediate Sidewalk Repairs

Mayor James J. Fiorentini poses before a broken sidewalk. (Courtesy photograph.)

Haverhill City Councilor Michael S. McGonagle.

Haverhill City Councilor Michael S. McGonagle.

Haverhill city councilors Tuesday night paved the way, so to speak, for Mayor James J. Fiorentini’s $1.2 million sidewalk upgrade plan and other “immediate” city property projects to move ahead.

Councilors voted 8 to 0 to transfer a total $1,937,500 from the free cash account for the fiscal year ending June 30 to various capital projects. Under a revised order, a $50,000 allocation to design the next section of the Bradford rail trail was reduced to $20,000 and applied toward the new budget beginning July 1. The remainder, at Fiorentini’s request, was designated for air conditioner repairs to the Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. Council Chambers and the mayor’s office at city hall. The order also provides $200,000 for “safety repairs” to the Herbert H. Goecke Jr. Memorial Parking Deck, downtown, and $300,000 to complete repairs to East Broadway bridge. As to sidewalk improvements, Councilor Michael S. McGonagle was among several who agreed with Fiorentini’s opinion “sidewalks repairs were badly needed.”

“Sidewalk complaints are one of the main topics I hear out and about town, especially with the elderly,” McGonagle said. “You already said you are going to look at where the schools are and try to use them as the center and then go outward. But also, I’d ask you to go downtown where a lot of the elderly have to go to do their business. And make sure those sidewalks are walkable because, as we all know, the winters aren’t kind to our sidewalks.”

City Council Vice President Melinda E. Barrett.

City Council Vice President Melinda E. Barrett.

Council Vice President Melinda E. Barrett told Fiorentini she was initially concerned on spending $200,000 for the Goecke deck repairs while a separate matter, to receive future redevelopment proposals, was pending.

“(Economic Development Director) Bill Pillsbury kind of alleviated some of my fears on spending $200,000 on the Goecke deck. I can show you a film of it raining inside but I understand that’s why you’re spending this money, just to maintain its safety so we can think about what to do next. I’m not a big fan of it but I do appreciate the need to keep it safe,” Barrett said.

Other spending approved under the transfer order include $75,000 in energy efficiency improvements at city hall, $100,000 for “city hall document management,” $6,000 to rebind “vital books” at the city clerk’s office and $6,500 for an information technology department security audit. Meanwhile, the mayor’s updated five-year capital   improvement plan, from the current fiscal year to the year ending June 30, 2020, was unanimously referred to the Administration and Finance subcommittee.

In response to an inquiry by Councilor Colin F. LePage, city Finance Director Charles Benevento said the Free Cash account balance would stand at more than $3.5 million, in addition to a separate $2.5 million stabilization fund balance.

Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien was absent during the fund transfer vote.

City Parking Lots: For Sale with the Right Proposal

Terra-cotta from the Daggett Building near the top of the Herbert H. Goecke Jr. Memorial Parking Deck.

Terra-cotta from the Daggett Building near the top of the Herbert H. Goecke Jr. Memorial Parking Deck.

Separately, no discussion was raised as a majority of councilors passed the mayor’s request to open the Goecke deck and Riverfront Promenade parking area on Merrimack Street to future redevelopment proposals.

In a matter postponed from last week’s meeting, a series of three procedural votes added the Goecke deck to the original surplus property declaration request for the parking area adjacent to Haverhill Bank on Merrimack Street. Four councilors—Barrett, McGonagle, Joseph J. Bevilacqua and Thomas J. Sullivan—abstained.

3 thoughts on “City Councilors Approve Immediate Sidewalk Repairs

  1. So in reality then, Haverhill has $6 million in cash on hand ? Tell me why then taxes went up again and the pension funds are underfunded ? Just curious

    • No kidding Jack – and no ones cares. The same hacks keep getting elected and taxes keep going up (even though they tell us they didn’t “really” go up).

      We just need to build more basketball courts and hand out more free cheese – and all will be well.

    • By the way Jack – just curious – do you, or anyone you know of have a large “free cash” account anywhere?

      I don’t – so just wondering what I’m doing wrong?