With Belt-Tightening Ahead: Consentino Project Seen as Safe, Water St. Fire Station Less Certain

Haverhill's Dr. Albert B. Consentino School. (Jay Saulnier file photograph for WHAV News.)

With city belt-tightening a near certainty, Haverhill city councilors learned Tuesday night some favorite building projects are likely safe, while others could be delayed.

Council Vice President Colin F. LePage expressed frustration over plans that have long been in the pipeline but with seemingly little action being taken.  He noted, for example, the last discussion on establishing a new citywide Maintenance Department was Jan, 28. At the time, Mayor James J. Fiorentini was granted $12,500 to hire Matrix Company to perform a study of the issue instead of hiring a maintenance director as agreed last year. Mayoral Chief of Staff Allison Heartquist responded, saying study is ongoing and should be ready around the first of May.

LePage also raised the status of repairing or replacing Dr. Albert B. Consentino School. Superintendent Margaret Marotta, who was on hand remotely, gave an update.

“As of this coming Thursday, the next step in the process of the Consentino approval from the MSBA will occur. The vote of the board will occur at that moment Thursday morning. We have completed everything up until this point needed to be brought to the next step in the process which will be the feasibility study,” she said.

Marotta said the board will be looking at that feasibility study for a couple of months. Although it is unlikely the Massachusetts School Building Authority will act on two requests at the same time, Marotta said, the Haverhill School Committee plans to vote next week on a second statement of interest. It is the first step toward seeking state help repairing or replacing John Greenleaf Whittier School.

LePage also requested updates on such other projects as replacing roofs at the high school and Whittier School. The mayor’s chief of staff told the council these are also ongoing projects and will be completed.

“As far as any project that has a contract, we are moving ahead. So, municipal construction jobs are moving ahead if they have a contract. If they are not signed or do not have a contract, then yes, unfortunately they are going to be put on hold,” Heartquist said.

Two projects that may fall into the hold category are replacement of a retaining wall behind City Hall, which is now being inspected, and new windows for the Water Street firehouse.

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