Fiorentini Fires Conservation Chair in Alleged Retaliation for Tree Replanting

A MON Landscaping worker waters newly planted saplings along Water Street in Haverhill. (Courtesy photograph.)

Longtime Haverhill Conservation Commission Chairperson Cheryl Accardi was relieved of her duties on the city board in what insiders allege is retaliation for the Commission’s decision to cite the city for cutting 147 trees along the Merrimack River last year.

Reached by telephone late Friday, Accardi told WHAV she was let go from her post by Mayor James J. Fiorentini in a call that morning.

“He called and asked me if I was on the Conservation Commission, and I said ‘Yes, I’m the Chairperson.’ He said ‘Well, I’ve decided to go in a different direction with the Commission, so your services will no longer be needed. Thank you for your service,’” Accardi recounted.

WHAV has learned that in the several weeks leading up to Accardi’s dismissal, Fiorentini made statements to people at City Hall about the status of the seven commissioners, admitting that he was ready for personnel changes.

Accardi told WHAV she believed her firing was tied to the violation notice and called circumstances surrounding her exit “very similar” to that of former Commissioner Brent Baeslack. As WHAV previously reported, Baeslack was replaced by Fiorentini after he voiced concern about the cutting. The mayor countered that replacing Baeslack was solely intended to bring “new blood” to city boards.

Planting and watering was completed last week by MON Landscaping of Dartmouth in compliance with an order of conditions issued by the Conservation Commission last fall.

Vice Chairperson Harmony Wilson is expected to oversee the Commission in Accardi’s absence, with local businessman Joseph DiPietro joining in the role of a commissioner.