Barrett, Bevilacqua Express Concern Over ‘Shoddy Work’ of Police Station Solar Panel Project

Rear of Haverhill Police Station. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Haverhill's police station on Bailey Boulevard had solar panels installed four years ago. (WHAV News file photograph)

The City of Haverhill’s great solar panel debate rages on. At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, councilors took issue with how repairs to roof panels at the Bailey Boulevard police station will be funded.

According to Mayor James J. Fiorentini, police Chief Alan R. DeNaro proposed taking money out of his department’s salary account to pay for repairs to the four-year-old roof panels, installed by MassAmerican Energy. Councilors wondered why that money couldn’t be taken from another city account, and reserved to hire another officer or two.

What really got councilors going, however, was chatter about the repair contract itself.

Councilors Melinda E. Barrett and Joseph J. Bevilacqua questioned the provision that nullifies the project’s warranty from MassAmerican if Gale Associates, the city’s contracted engineering firm, is unable to certify the repair work.

Barrett called the work to date “shoddy,” and urged the city to take MassAmerican to task for potential mistakes.

“This has been a problem from day one—since the installation—two years. It just seems like we should be moving farther along down the road. This is shoddy work,” she said.

Bevilacqua agreed litigation against MassAmerican should be considered.

“If you’re got an in-place insurance policy intended to protect the city if there were problems with construction, and you’ve identified the company that did it, I would suggest we should immediately go after the company’s insurance liability program,” he argued.

For his part, Fiorentini hopes litigation can be avoided, but admitted his patience is wearing thin.

Said the mayor, “We’ve learned litigation sounds good, but it can drag on. It has always been my goal to work something out with MassAmerican. We’ll give it one more try.”

The police station was constructed in 1999 at an initial cost of $6.6 million. As WHAV reported in 2015, a study by the state Department of Health found the station required substantial indoor and outdoor repairs because of “chronic moisture infiltration” and “visible microbial growth,” resulting in the current multi-phase repair project.