Council Formally Hears District Court Plans for City Hall

Haverhill City Hall.

Plans to temporarily house Haverhill District Court non-criminal and probation offices at Haverhill City Hall, during an $8 Million court house renovation project, will go before Haverhill city councilors Tuesday.

Councilors are asked to authorize Mayor James J. Fiorentini to execute a one year “license to occupy” with the Commonwealth’s Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM), on behalf of Massachusetts Trial Court.  The district court would use 4,529 square feet of second floor space at city hall, including Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. Council Chambers, weekdays between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., for “civil court and small claims sessions” and space for “probation office functions,” according to council documents. The city would receive $24,000 license fee, over 12 monthly payments of $2,000. Also, under a rider to the agreement, DCAMM would “perform minor improvements,” including “installation of voice/data cabling, security equipment and the replacement of carpeting within the licensed premises.”  The city would be required, at its expense, to paint the area and repair and/or replace existing lighting fixtures by Oct. 15. Occupancy would take effect for a year beginning Nov. 1.

As WHAV reported last month, the court house renovation project involves improving handicapped accessibility, installing an elevator, replacing windows and roof, replacing heating and air conditioning systems, better sealing the building from the outdoor environment and addressing “deferred maintenance,” according to state documents. Meanwhile, the move to city hall will also bring court security measures outside the council chambers, according to David S. Van Dam, chief of staff to Fiorentini. He told WHAV the move would not affect normal City Hall business flow.

“Security measures will move to outside the council chambers, but it won’t affect anyone doing business at city hall,” Van Dam said. He added the future presence of screening equipment and court officers within or outside council chambers will be “specific to court business.” Night meetings at the chambers, including city council and school committee meetings, will not be impacted.

Council Cancels Secret Session

In other business, councilors were to enter into a closed-door “executive session” regarding an undisclosed “litigation matter,” but the item has been removed from the agenda.

WHAV challenged the session, saying not enough information was presented to comply with the state’s Open Meeting Law.

The Haverhill City Council meets Tuesday at 7 p.m., in council chambers at City Hall.