Council Committee Endorses ‘Pop-Up’ City Halls

City Councilor Andy Vargas.

City Councilor Andy Vargas.

City Council Vice President Melinda E. Barrett.

City Council Vice President Melinda E. Barrett.

A Haverhill City Council subcommittee has recommended Mayor James J. Fiorentini move forward on a proposed return of so-called “pop-up” city halls to various city neighborhoods.

The Citizens Outreach Committee, chaired by council Vice President Melinda E. Barrett, gave its support Thursday to a request by councilor and committee member Andy Vargas, along with Mount Washington neighborhood group Urban Kindness, the mayor “reactivate pop up city hall and goes out into the neighborhoods.” Last August, the full council referred the matter to the committee. The committee also suggested the city delegation bring “problem solvers” and councilors to the general public.

“When the van goes out, department heads or representatives should be on board to meet and help resolve resident issues. Survey the residents who participate for feedback. As an incentive, consider offering ice cream, donuts, etc. to reach out to those who otherwise might not attend,” Barrett wrote.

The outreach committee Thursday also discussed legalities of holding either council or subcommittee meetings outside city hall, possibly at Harbor Place, as motioned by Councilor Colin F. LePage. It agreed to send a letter to City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr. for response.

“Consideration should be given to handicap accessibility, televising of meetings and quality of audio/video,” Barrett added. She is scheduled to formally present the committee’s recommendations to the full city council Tuesday night.

First-term councilor Vargas, as a candidate in last year’s city election, first proposed during his campaign, as WHAV reported, the city conduct “pop-up” city halls in different areas of the city, where the full city council would schedule at least one of its meetings annually. Urban Kindness is a member of the larger Mount Washington Alliance, which received a $475,000 “working cities challenge” grant earlier this year by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. It was said to be aimed at closing a “social and economic opportunity gap” between that neighborhood and the rest of the city.

The Haverhill City Council meets Tuesday at 7 p.m., in Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. Council Chambers at Haverhill City Hall.

6 thoughts on “Council Committee Endorses ‘Pop-Up’ City Halls

  1. Using this grant money for this purpose may be in violation of the criteria specified to get this grant money. What a nutty idea. If people cannot take the time to watch the meetings why does anyone think they will take the time to come outside to a meeting ? Oh yeah, free food and goodies. So let’s bribe people to come out and tell us what they think ?

    Sounds a lot like what the Romans did….Bread and Circus….placate the masses so they do not see the underlying corruption.
    Maybe stop talking about telephone poles and farmers markets and talk about WHY the Mayor stole $300k out of the Hunking school construction budget for his own use. Where is the investigation by the council ? Where is the outrage that Haverhill residents will now pay interest on that money for 20 years and where did it go and for what ????

    What a bunch of hogwash. As the Mayor tells people privately: I get whatever I want. This council is weak and ineffective.

  2. What a dumb idea! The grant money has been paid to Urban Alliance, so now there is a desperate search for someplace to spend it. Can’t a more worthwhile purpose be found for this money? Crime reduction, perhaps? Does everyone not know where City Hall is??????

  3. If they cared they would show up. Offering incentives such as food etc is absolutely rediculous!!!
    How about Melinda and Andy donate their salaries to buy ice cream and donuts to people who come to the “van”?? Didn’t think so.
    Why do we pander to people? If you care enough about your city you will go the meeting. Instead we will bring the meeting to the groups who sponsor the meeting and the council will pander to this group.
    Why oh why do I work so hard and pay taxes on my property?? I just want a little bit of city services to.

  4. Andy Vargas: Anyone who has followed your arrival on the scene into Haverhill politics knows you are a community organizing 0bama disciple that embraces social media. But, like the conniving mayor, you embrace it only to the point that it supports your liberal views and agenda. When it doesn’t, you hide and completely ignore citizens of Haverhill who try to engage and communicate with you on issues using those platforms. Here on WHAV there are 1.5MILLION views a month of people reading and sharing their concerns and opinions about the issues of the city. It goes without saying that you won’t achieve that kind of participation and informational reach with neighborhood meetings.

    Andy, you have been asked repeatedly here on WHAV to comment on issues specifically regarding your actions as an elected city councilor. Your response has been to ignore the tough questions posed to you on this community communication platform. To ignore and avoid answering those questions says a lot about your sincerity and integrity of getting community input, feedback and clarifying where you stand on any given issue. Why would anyone attend a neighborhood meeting you organize when you completely ignore citizens of the city on the largest and most popular community social media platform currently being used in the city?

    I know that you have responded to questions here that I have asked you (as well as other people) by inviting me to meet for coffee. As much as I appreciate your willingness to meet and speak directly, what I am looking for is you to put yourself on record publicly regarding issues. That isn’t too much to ask, is it?

    For people who see this idea as having merit you should ask yourself….If the politicians are blowing off answering tough questions when 1.5Million people are watching, how sincere and honest do you really think they’re going to be when there are 10~20 people watching?

      • Hi Bobby,

        The WHAV number was reported by them here on their website.

        As for the ET’s reach….within the last month they published a legal notice that included statistical information about the paper…# of subscribers, paying customers, etc. It did not provide daily site traffic but may provide some information that you are looking for. There are websites that show online traffic. I don’t remember the one I used when checking out the ET in the past, but do recall that their “unique viewers” number to be declining significantly. The statistic that stuck out for me was the “average time” a viewer was on the site. It was one and a half minutes. To me, that meant people are checking the obituaries and leaving. Not a good stat to attract advertisers. I think they’re slowing going out of business.

        I hope this helps.
        Good luck….