Haverhill Mayor James. J. Fiorentini. (WHAV News photograph.)
The City of Haverhill hopes to win between $100,000 and $5 million from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s charitable foundation.
Haverhill is already one of the first 300 cities to enter the 2017 Mayors Challenge, announced last month, said Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini this week. He said Bloomberg is seeking strong ideas to move cities forward.
“Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Bloomberg Philanthropies is offering up to $3 million to cities to come up with new, technological, innovative ways of solving problems,” Fiorentini said.
As one of the first cities to enter the competition, Haverhill will receive technical assistance from the charity. “They’re going to help us shape the proposal, and we’re soliciting ideas now. You always need to innovate when you run a city and we’ll be looking at different things.”
The mayor said he already has 10 preliminary ideas. He described one.
“What are some on the unique challenges facing American cities and what can we do to help solve them? What unique technological or other idea can we come up with? So, we’re looking at things like parking. When you go through the Sumner Tunnel, you no longer face a toll booth. You don’t reach into your pocket and take out a quarter anymore. You just drive right through and it sends you a bill. Is there some new technology we can come up with to do this for downtown parking?”
Another idea is to provide incentives for commuters to use Amtrak’s Downeaster express train to and from Boston. He said some people don’t use commuter rail because it is too slow because of the number of stops. They also don’t use the faster Downeaster because of the added cost, he explained.
Fiorentini said the first meeting with technical advisors is next month. He said he has already reached out to city councilors for ideas.
Bloomberg Philanthropies is putting up more than $17 million for the 2017 Mayors Challenge. Thirty five cities will win $100,000, while four more receive $1 million and one grand prize winner gets $5 million. The grand prize winner will be announced a year from October.
“U.S. mayors face bigger challenges than ever before,” the foundation said. “Innovation is no longer optional; it’s necessary so cities can continue to deliver results and improve life for residents.”