Mayor: Waterfront Development is Key to City’s Future

Rendering of the proposed Stevens Mill redevelopment project

Haverhill’s future is focused on its rivers.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini shared his vision for the city’s future in his annual State of the City Address Tuesday night, saying the next phase of the city’s renaissance will take place along the Merrimack and Little rivers.

Projects include a 10-story mixed-use downtown building and a renovated cotton mill built in 1800.

The downtown development, called Haverhill Heights, will be built next to Haverhill Bank and will feature a restaurant on the first floor with fire pits on a riverfront boardwalk, businesses on the second to fifth floors, and penthouse apartments on the three floors above that. On the top floor will be a function room and bar. A parking area will be added under the building.

The project, by Lupoli Properties and its principal, Sal Lupoli, has received Planning Board approval.

Fiorentini said state permits have already been issued for the Stevens Mill redevelopment project at Hale and Winter streets. The project will create a scenic park and walkway along Little River, he said.

As Haverhill reorients itself toward its waterways, unused properties on the Bradford side of the river will be redeveloped under the city’s new waterfront zoning ordinance, Fiorentini said.

The city has received preliminary state approval to use transportation funding to create bike and walking paths and provide clear views to the Merrimack River on Water Street, Fiorentini said, calling it one of the major gateways into the city. The project will provide access to the Buttonwoods Trail along the river.

Starting this summer, the city will use a state matching grant to make improvements to Riverside Park, including cutting down trees to open views of the river, planting trees to shade walking paths inside the park, and extending walking paths into the woods.

Saying education is the city’s top priority, Fiorentini promised to improve schools in the Mount Washington area.

Fiorentini said he will offer details soon on a new project to fix Consentino and Tilton schools. The annual tax impact of the project would be roughly the same as the cost to pay the bond taken out to pay for the Nettle School, which runs out in two years.

“This is something we can do; this is something we must do; this is something we will do,” said Fiorentini.

The mayor ran down a list of “good things happening in the city,” including:

  • Completion of the newly built Hunking School, the site of the mayor’s address, $1 million under budget and six months early
  • Rebuilding parks and playgrounds, with a $2 million expenditure on Swazey’s Field
  • Instituting an automated trash system that saved $500,000 last year
  • Fielding 20,000 constituent calls since August using a new 311 phone number at City Hall
  • Continuing a program to rebuild and repair city sidewalks, with a $1 million expenditure in 2016

Fiorentini celebrated a three-year drop in the city’s crime rate of 21 percent.

“Haverhill is a safe city, and it will remain that way,” he said, noting that in the past three years car thefts have dropped 13 percent, robberies 30 percent and burglaries 26 percent.

The biggest law enforcement challenge facing the city is a opioid epidemic that affects every city in the state, Fiorentini said. He said the city has applied for a grant to pay for a full-time addiction coordinator.

The city continues to face financial challenges, including an average $10 million annual bill for the debt on the formerly city-owned Hale Hospital; unfunded federal mandates of $35 million to $50 million to remedy sewer and stormwater issues; pension costs for city workers that will balloon from a current $17 million to $28 million in 2032; and $250 million for city retirees’ health care costs.


2 thoughts on “Mayor: Waterfront Development is Key to City’s Future

  1. This address, as expected, is full of spin, lies and outright omissions.

    The incompetent mayor made National News twice in 2016 and Boston Regional news once.

    When the mayor threatened a city homeowner with fines during the presidential election for having signs on his property for the candidate he didn’t support, thereby attempting to violate his First Amendment Right to Free Speech, it became news across the country. But, as Chairman of the School Committee, the mayor was perfectly fine with city councilor Andy Vargas translating comments by a Non-English speaking criminal trespasser from another country living illegally in Haverhill who wanted to speak at a public meeting for which she had absolutely no rights to participate.

    Haverhill made national news again last fall when two criminal trespassers in the country illegally dragged a teenage girl into the woods at Riverside Park and raped her. Not once has the mayor commented on this. Not once!!!
    Now he’s using the park to promote his administration? It’s mind boggling….

    In December the corrupt mayor made Boston Regional news when he threatened School Committee President Maura Ryan-Ciardiello to vote the way he wanted on the issue of installing dangerous solar panels on Tilton School. His intimidating remarks were picked up on a microphone which were then broadcast on all of Boston’s TV stations. How often does this happen that taxpayers don’t even hear about it?

    We have now learned by an unbiased, objective independent company how dangerous a city Haverhill is. Because of the mayor’s sanctuary city policies Haverhill is now a VERY dangerous city. He has laid out the welcome mat to criminal trespassers illegally in this country. With their flocking to Haverhill has come an increase in dangerous crimes, drugs, overdoses, deaths of young people, increased taxpayer expenses in school and law enforcement costs, and an overall deterioration in the quality of life within the city. This is not going to stop. In fact, it is going to get worse as long as we have this mayor. With the mayor’s public objection to President Trump’s border security policies, criminals will continue to seek safe haven in Haverhill in increased numbers and crime will only get worse.

    This is an election year for the mayor. It’s time to get rid of this incompetent, corrupt failure.