Fiorentini Vetoes Haverhill Parking Plan to Overcome Councilors’ Conflicts of Interest

An existing downtown parking meter. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Click image for Haverhill City Council agenda.

A plan to circumvent state ethics rules and permit more Haverhill city councilors to vote on downtown parking issues, was vetoed Friday by Mayor James J. Fiorentini.

In a letter to city councilors, Fiorentini said he discussed the matter with City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr., and concluded “this will not accomplish what we wish to accomplish which was to allow all city councilors to vote on downtown parking agenda items.” Indirectly referencing last week’s willingness by City Councilor William J. Macek to withdraw objections to the current downtown parking plan, the mayor asked that his earlier proposal be revisited.

“I think all of the City Council is aware of the tremendous problems we have with the existing parking plan. It no longer pays for itself. We no longer have the money to maintain the parking meters. The hours are not uniform. Areas which requested pay for parking to help moved traffic along were denied.”

Councilors have an opportunity Tuesday night to override the mayor’s veto or leave it alone.

Two weeks ago, the Council accepted a proposal by Fiorentini that all members buy a parking pass—a move that would invoke the so-called “Rule of Necessity,” bypassing the conflict of interest issue.

Previously, Councilors Joseph J. Bevilacqua, Melinda E. Barrett, Thomas J. Sullivan and Michael S. McGonagle were advised they could not vote on downtown parking because each, or an immediate family member, either owns property downtown or holds a parking pass. Since the City Council requires five votes for any bill to pass, any single objection causes an ordinance to fail. Macek, who has opposed the paid downtown parking program, said last week he would reconsider.

“It’s been a long time since we have made changes and there is a need. It is a mess. Our downtown parking plan is confusing. It isn’t the same here or there. There’s a lot of things that need to be addressed,” Macek said.

Fiorentini accepted the gesture by naming Macek to the Central Business District Parking Commission.

On Tuesday, councilors are also being asked to approve taking an additional $170,000 from the sale of bonds—a total of $570,000—to cover the additional cost of replacing the roof at Haverhill High School’s Charles W. White Pool. City Councilor Timothy J. Jordan also plans to discuss repairs to the city’s Water Street fire station and Councilor John A. Michitson will provide updates on attracting alternative internet providers and cyber security.

The Council meets Tuesday, Feb. 11, 7 p.m., in Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. City Council Chambers, room 202, in Haverhill City Hall.

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