Haverhill Conservation Commissioner Ralph Basiliere pores over plans for the new Animal Control headquarters. (Courtesy photograph/Aaron Basiliere)
Haverhill is one step closer to a new Animal Control headquarters following the Conservation Commission’s approval of a preliminary engineering plan to revamp the 103 Downing Ave., location.
Civil engineering firm Allen & Major Associates petitioned the Commission on behalf of the City of Haverhill, coming to the board with questions to make sure their plans would fully align with the Wetlands Protection Act.
Conservation Commissioner Ralph Basiliere tells WHAV the group was “wise” to request a discussion—an effort Basiliere predicts will save the city an estimated $60,000 in related costs as the project progresses.
Considering two proposals last week, the seven-member Commission—headed by Vice Chair Harmony Wilson after longtime Chairperson Cheryl Accardi was dismissed—made several concessions in an effort to keep services operational during construction, Basiliere told WHAV.
“One of the challenges from the city’s side that we have to take into consideration is that the critical service of animal control—which is very important to public health and safety and quality of life—needs to continue while this construction happens,” he said. “It’s cost prohibitive for them to collect animals and bring them to other communities.”
All of Haverhill’s municipal vehicles also refuel at the Dowling Avenue location, Basiliere said, and would need to be rerouted if construction stalls.
In the end, commissioners will allow the city to build closer to a wetland area than they’d prefer, but taxpayer money is saved while services remain operational. As a result of engineering enhancements, a decreased volume of water runoff will decrease pollution.
“The completed construction makes for better protection for the wetlands,” Community Liaison Basiliere told WHAV. “That’s what makes this so interesting: It really highlights the importance of an autonomous commission that thinks through things and doesn’t just ‘rubber stamp.’”
Basiliere applauded his colleagues for thinking outside the box to develop a solution that serves the city and improves the area.
“At the end of the day, the resources we’re charged with protecting will actually be improved by thinking outside of the box,” he said.
Should the engineering firm incorporate the Commission’s suggestions, the plan is expected to be approved for presentation at a public hearing this fall.