Council to Hear Fiorentini’s Revised Lupoli Borrowing Plan Tuesday

Mayor James J. Fiorentini is expected to offer an update to councilors Tuesday on the Haverhill’s plan to borrow $1.12 million to cover an extension of the city-owned boardwalk and a parking deck downtown that are part of Salvatore N. Lupoli’s $30 million “Heights” project.

According to Council President John A. Michitson, Fiorentini plans to issue a revised proposal for less funding for the boardwalk only. A previous borrowing plan had the city set to pay an estimated $420,000 in interest over 20 years.

As WHAV previously reported, a financial shortfall is threatening a 10-story residential and commercial building planned by the developer on city land he is buying. The gap comes as a result of the state pulling back part of a grant, and bids coming in higher on other publicly owned infrastructure. Councilors placed the loan request on file for the required two weeks, opting to discuss and take a vote on it during this week’s session.

Following a barrage of questions from councilors about the project—including concerns about tax breaks Lupoli could receive and whether the developer could walk away without completing payments on city land he’s buying—Fiorentini cleared up misunderstandings with WHAV.

“We’re not paying anything for his property,” Fiorentini told WHAV, referring to a second lot Lupoli already owns at 192 Merrimack St. The mayor explained, “We’re building a parking garage on his property. We’re not paying anything for it.”

Councilors are admittedly hesitant to back the project with the big bucks Fiorentini is requesting.

Part of this year’s city budget, Councilor Colin F. LePage noted, was built on the expectation Lupoli would pay at least $500,000 toward his purchase of land between Rent-A-Center and Haverhill Bank. LePage said he identified the sum along with savings in the snow and ice budget to help the mayor pay for $1 million in additional spending.

So far, Lupoli has made two payments totaling $137,666.67 toward the $701,000 cost of buying the city’s riverfront parking lot. An agreement allows Lupoli to pay up to five more annual installments of $112,667.67 before taking ownership of the land.

WHAV plans to broadcast Tuesday’s Council meeting live from City Hall starting at 7 p.m.