Fiorentini Justifies Skipping Silver Hill State Aid Request: ‘Not a Wise Investment’

Haverhill School Superintendent Margaret Marotta with Mayor James J. Fiorentini. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Mayor James J. Fiorentini and Superintendent Margaret Marotta addressed the City Council on Jan. 15. (WHAV News file photograph)

Shortly after City Councilors backed four Haverhill school roof replacements, including over Mayor James J. Fiorentini’s objection, the city’s top leader is arguing that spending taxpayer money to fix Silver Hill’s 25-year-old roof is simply not wise.

Commenting on WHAV’s recap article of Tuesday’s Council meeting via Facebook, Fiorentini said aggressive strategy is key when petitioning the state’s School Building Authority for aid.

“You have to be strategic about when you ask and what you ask for,” Fiorentini posted in a comment thread that saw him interacting with several constituents about the issue. “The Silver Hill roof is not leaking and no roofer or engineer has told us that it needs replacement—or even repair.”

Furthermore, said Fiorentini, the building’s covering is expected to last another 15 years. When the time comes, a new Silver Hill roof is said to carry a $1 million price tag, with city taxpayers expected to shoulder $350,000 of that cost.

Petitioning residents for such funds prematurely “would not be a wise investment of our tax dollars,” the city chief said. “Our tax dollars would be better spent on repairing roofs and buildings that are in immediate need of improvement.”

As outlined at Tuesday’s Council meeting, seven of eight councilors in attendance backed a plan to submit an emergency request to the state’s “Accelerated Repair Program,” on behalf of Haverhill High, Golden Hill, Silver Hill and Moody Schools. Joseph J. Bevilacqua supported Fioretnini’s request to omit Silver Hill from the application package and was overruled. The city’s application is due by Feb. 15.

Silver Hill is the latest school to cause structural concern among locals in recent weeks. Parent Paige Caswell petitioned the School Committee Jan. 10 to address issues at the more than 60-year-old JG Whittier middle school. Calling the school “a pit,” Caswell pointed to structural issues and mold in locker rooms, poor indoor air quality and persistent roof leaks as major areas of concern. Fiorentini has said Whittier repairs are next on the list once Consentino receives its state-backed overhaul.