Haverhill Council Subcommittee to Look at Possible Uses of Former Hale Hospital Trust Funds

Haverhill City Council Vice President Colin F. LePage is chairman of the Administration and Finance Committee. (WHAV News photograph by Jay Saulnier)

A plan by the Haverhill City Council to use money from a long dormant Hale Hospital Trust Fund in the battle against the COVID-19 virus received a bit of a setback Tuesday night.

As reported previously on WHAV, the fund, which totals nearly $600,000, is from donations made by numerous individuals dating back to 1888. The problem is that many of the donations were designated for specific uses which makes releasing the funds more difficult. City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr. said it will take some time before the money becomes available.

“I don’t think that it would be fair to say that there is money available that can be used for current expenses related to COVID-19. We need to go to the Supreme Judicial Court and file a petition and ask them to allow us to use them for purposes other than that for which they were originally donated or bequeathed to the city,” Cox said.

Cox said he thought the chances of success were good in the long run but pointed out that all courts are presently closed in the state and will be facing a tremendous backlog once they open again. The solicitor estimated that it could take nine months or more before the court would be able to hear the petition.

Council Vice President Colin F. LePage and Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien placed the matter on the agenda after seeing various references to the trust over the years. Haverhill took over the private Hale Hospital—and donations that had been made to it— in 1931 as it succumbed to the great economic depression. The city ultimately sold the hospital in 2001.

Cox advised officials should decide how the funds will be specifically used before bringing a petition before the court. To that end, the Council voted unanimously to send the issue to its Administration and Finance Committee for further consideration.

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