Next Year, City Plans More Attractive Merrimack St. ‘Bump-Outs’

Noah Koretz, an expert in transitional development, is helping to transform downtown seating areas called “parklets.”

Two temporary seating areas built on top of Merrimack Street parking spaces have been the talk of the city this summer.

Erected on May 6 as part of a one-day exercise to envision ways to revitalize and bring pedestrian activity downtown, the bump-outs, as they’ve been called, have remained. Owners of Barrett’s Specialty Foods and the A-1 Deli sought city permits to allow for outdoor seating as a way to retain the structures in front of their businesses until the end of September.

As the permits near their expiration date, City Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien said she hopes city officials have plans to improve the bump-outs’ appearance and durability if they are to return next year.

“The temporary bump-outs were great for that day,” Daly O’Brien said, but they didn’t stand the test of time.

Noah Koretz, who has worked with the city on transformation initiatives through a partnership with MassDevelopment, said he is conferring with Mayor James J. Fiorentini on alternative designs for the bump-outs, known around the country and the world as “parklets.”

The jersey barriers flanking the seating areas are particularly unattractive, Daly O’Brien said.

“If this is going to be a feature going forward, how can it be done so they are safe and attractive?” she asked.

Koretz showed councilors a series of photos of parklets located as nearby as Somerville and as far away as Montreal, Canada. Most used large planters in various materials, from wood to concrete, and fencing or rails, to separate the seating area from the street and protect users from vehicle traffic.

Fiorentini and department heads are working on a more permanent solution for downtown businesses, working together to address aesthetic and safety concerns, Koretz said. They hope to develop rules for a downtown parklet program in time for the 2018 outdoor dining season.

The temporary structures will be removed at the beginning of October, in plenty of time to clear the street for winter snow removal.

Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan praised the parklet program, but agreed with Daly O’Brien that the jersey barriers are unsightly.

 “I tried to get the jersey barriers painted. I’m not sure it would have made much of a difference … sort of like putting lipstick on a pig,” Sullivan said.

Daly O’Brien asked if the large jersey barriers now in use could be swapped out for smaller models for the remainder of this year’s outdoor dining season.


7 thoughts on “Next Year, City Plans More Attractive Merrimack St. ‘Bump-Outs’

    • So you like visiting places that are militarized zones, Keith?
      Nothing broadcasts to the public that an area is dangerous more than a heavy police presence. At the Kidsfest the mayor even had both ends of Merrimack Street blocked off by police cruisers with their lights flashing and police standing next to their vehicles with bullet proof vests on. The Kidsfest!! Yea, that’s just the place people want to bring their children. The mayor has downtown Haverhill looking like Kabul, Afghanistan. And for good reason…it’s just about as dangerous given the welcome mat he’s laid out for criminal illegals to seek safe haven in the city.

      If you visit cities like Newburyport, Kennebunkport, Salem Mass, Boston waterfront, Gloucester, you don’t even see a single cop.

      Hey, Keith, don’t worry, I get it. Given your background with assault weapons I understand how you’d feel this is all perfectly acceptable.

      • I see cops when I visit those places, especially if an event is going on that blocks a major road. I’m glad they are there to protect the children. If they weren’t you’d cry about that too Johnboy. And for the record, I don’t own any assault weapons.

  1. What a fiasco. Parking is already scarce. Why not just get rid of all the parking and close the street ? Then you can do whatever you want with the open space. THAT would be the best thing to do, creating a Fanuel Hall type area. But I doubt anyone has that kind of forward thinking as they did decades ago.

    • I think making it one way would be better than closing it. You still have to get in there for deliveries, trash removal, emergencies, ECT…

  2. “I tried to get the jersey barriers painted…Sullivan said”
    This is like watching an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies.

    And then you’ve got the mayor saying with a straight face that he wants to use the river to make downtown Haverhill a destination spot for people to visit from all across the Merrimack Valley. Jersey barriers, parking taxes, meals taxes, city traffic officers riding around aggressively working to ticket as many cars as possible, and now at night so many cops walking around downtown it looks like a war zone. Throw in gang members cruising downtown, drug addicts shooting up in their cars and throwing the needles away in parking lots, and people driving to Haverhill even from other states to buy their drugs in the city and you’ve got a clear vision of what the incompetent liberal mayor has created.

    But no worries, like this article says….just wait until next year.

  3. I think it’s ugly but would not sit out there next to traffic unless there was thick barriers there its to close to traffic n anyone could get hit or worse.