City, Lupoli, State Officials Officially Open Expanded Rep. Brian S. Dempsey Boardwalk Friday

The recently expanded Rep. Brian S. Dempsey Boardwalk in downtown Haverhill. (WHAV News file photograph.)

The city officially opens the expanded Rep. Brian S. Dempsey Boardwalk in downtown Haverhill with a ceremony Friday afternoon.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini and “Heights at Haverhill” developer Salvatore N. Lupoli plan to host a small ceremony with local legislators and state officials Friday to formally open the boardwalk extension along the Merrimack River.

“This was decades in the making,” the mayor said of the full Merrimack Street stretch of boardwalk. In a statement, he added, “It was a long process and the development of Harbor Place a few years ago was really the catalyst for the largest piece of boardwalk and getting us where we are today. Next, we want to continue the boardwalk along Washington Street to Comeau Bridge and eventually have it run along the entire downtown stretch of the river.”

For more than three decades, the city managed to build only a small stretch of boardwalk behind what was the city’s Riverfront Promenade Parking Lot and Haverhill Bank—a one-time urban renewal parcel. The largest section, built on top of the Merrimack River floodwall, wouldn’t come until the development of Harbor Place. In 2014, the state awarded the city and developer a $19 million MassWorks grant paid, which paid some of the costs associated with the $68 million project.

This most recent section of riverfront walkway behind the glass Heights extends the boardwalk along the full length of Merrimack Street, connecting it from Harbor Place to Washington Square in back of the post office.

Friday’s ribbon-cutting is at 1 p.m. on the boardwalk behind 200 Merrimack St. Among those invited include officials from the state Department of Housing and Economic Development, which funded the project—including the boardwalk, parking lots and greenspaces—with $2.4 million in state MassWorks grant money.

At the end of 2016, Fiorentini proposed, and the City Council unanimously approved, an order to name “the full length of the boardwalk on the northerly side of the Merrimack River, currently existing or contemplated in the future, between the Basiliere Bridge and the Comeau Bridge,” as the Rep. Brian S. Dempsey Boardwalk. As House Ways and Means chairman, Dempsey secured the state money to help redevelop the former F.W. Woolworth property and adjacent parcels as part of the Harbor Place project.

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