Haverhill Spends $100,000 to Discourage Intruders at Abandoned Mill, Site of 2015 Blaze

Officials say removal of the Little River dam could spur redevelopment of the Stevens Mill. (WHAV News photograph.)

Haverhill firefighters respond to Stevens Street blaze during September 2015. (WHAV News photograph.)

Haverhill is taking steps to protect remaining Lafayette Square-area mill buildings to prevent a repeat of a seven-alarm blaze that tore through the Stevens Street complex in 2015.

LCBS of Wilmington is currently boarding up 490 windows using reinforced plywood to further discourage intruders. The boards are to be painted dark red to match the brick buildings and a six-foot-tall chain link fence will next be erected around the perimeter of the property. Mayor James J. Fiorentini said he is using $100,000 in federal grant money after failing so far in prodding the current owner to do the work.

Police and fire officials have expressed increasing concerns over intruders, including squatters, gangs and other troublemakers, breaking into the long-abandoned buildings.

Following the 2015 fire at the former site of Hudson Machinery Company, 14-30 Stevens St., four juveniles—two 15-year-olds and two, ages 14 and 16—were charged with burning of a building.

Back in 2016, Winn Development first proposed a $30 million redevelopment of Stevens Mills. The plan would have added 80 units of housing with a restaurant on the first floor. Since then, concerns have been raised about the Little River dam, which was called an impediment to development as well as adding to potential climate change-related flooding risks.

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