Fiorentini Proposes New Downtown Haverhill Parking Plan Amid Crumbling Concrete at Goecke Deck

The Herbert H. Goecke Jr. Memorial Parking Deck. (WHAV News file photograph.)

In the wake of fallen concrete on the ground level of the Herbert H. Goecke Jr. Memorial Parking Deck on downtown’s Merrimack Street, local leaders Tuesday sprang into action, developing a short- and long-term solution to ensure public safety and look to the future to better parking in the City of Haverhill.

At the City Council meeting, Department of Public Works Director Michael Stankovich, city Engineer John Pettis addressed concerns raised by Council President John A. Michitson after the governing body learned of 12-15 small sites where concrete was “falling,” potentially doing damage to cars or pedestrians, Stankovich said. The situation worsened over the weekend, when DPW crews had to block off two parking spaces to carry out immediate repairs to a troubled area of the 453-space paid lot.

Voting unanimously to allocate $25,000 for temporary repairs, the Council Tuesday also heard Mayor James J. Fiorentini’s longer-term plan for a new parking deck.

Fiorentini suggested moving forward on what he called a “dual track,” to pursue both an engineering study at the cost of $35,000-40,000 while assessing any immediate damage to the deck to assure resident safety. Fiorentini also wants to issue a request for proposals for a new parking deck, building upon a 2016 downtown master plan completed by Utile, the same company overseeing the city’s most recent master plan.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Fiorentini admitted his hesitations now are the same ones he had then. “I don’t want to over-promise and under-deliver. My reluctance at that time was because they were talking about a 700-unit, $21 million parking garage,” he said. “No developer in the country is going to put $30 million into parking. They’re just not.”

The current Goecke deck, built in two phases between 1978 to 1981, is split into an east and a west side for repair purposes, with the west side—facing Washington Street—having the most “challenges,” according to Stankovich.

Fiorentini also worries about how to fund the project, arguing that federal earmarks have largely dried up. However, he believes the city should strike while the iron’s hot. After all, the mayor said, the last time the city submitted an RFP, it netted mega-developer Salvatore N. Lupoli, now hard at work building Merrimack Street’s Haverhill Heights complex.

Sums up Fiorentini: “This is a long shot but it’s a shot worth taking.”

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