Council Declares Newcomb St. Property Surplus, Awaits Developers’ Ideas

Haverhill City Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan. (WHAV News file photograph by Jay Saulnier.)

City councilors Tuesday gave the mayor permission to weigh developers’ interest in the abandoned property at 20 Newcomb St. and two attached vacant parcels behind it by declaring the site surplus.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini, who said he prefers residential development of the site, predicted the parking shortage will loosen when the Registry of Motor Vehicles moves and Haverhill District Court evacuates its temporary location to return to its renovated home later this summer.

Council Vice President Thomas J. Sullivan (pictured) expects parking to remain at a premium when both state agencies leave City Hall.

 “There is a parking problem and there may continue to be a parking problem without the registry and the court,” Sullivan said.

Many councilors say they hope a developer will show interest only in the back two parcels, leave the third lot in the city’s hands, and help finance the demolition of the white wooden structure that sits on the back corner of the City Hall parking lot.

This outcome would provide money for the city and increase parking in the over-crowded lot.

“It could very well turn out that the parcel the building is located on would turn out to be ours and the housing would be built on the back two parcels,” Sullivan said.

Councilor William J. Macek withheld approval, saying the city should hold on to the lots until it is proven that they are not needed for parking. Councilors Joseph A. Bevilacqua and Melinda Barrett also opposed declaring the property surplus.

All three supported Bevilacqua’s request to limit the request for proposals to the two back lots and maintaining ownership of the front lot.

The remaining councilors, however, disagreed with limiting the request for proposals, saying it should be as broad as possible to attract the largest number of developer responses.

Fiorentini said he plans to wait until the registry and court have moved out of City Hall to assess the parking situation before making a final recommendation on development of the Newcomb Street parcels.

The final decision will rest with the council.