Haverhill Council Votes 8-1 to Request $125,000 for Cogswell ArtSpace; Mayor Asked to Agree

The George F. Cogswell School was built in 1891. It is located at 351 S. Main St.

A seven-year campaign to create and open the Cogswell ArtSpace may be getting nearer to reality if a request by the Haverhill City Council is approved by Mayor James J. Fiorentini.

The request came in the form of a motion by Councilor Timothy J. Jordan at last week’s Council meeting to donate $125,000 to Creative Haverhill, which purchased the former George F. Cogswell School at 351 South Main St., in Bradford, two years ago with the plan of turning it into a community art space for Greater Haverhill’s youth and adult population.

Erin Padilla of Creative Haverhill addressed the City Council, explaining how the group managed to raise $2.1 million toward that goal without any contribution from the city.

“Creative Haverhill has worked tirelessly to not add financial strain to the city budget, and has not asked for financial support from the city. We, instead, have worked very hard to find major funds through state supported program,” she said.

The $125,000 would come from the federal American Rescue Plan Act. Haverhill is receiving $37.4 million from that plan and, last June, the Council earmarked $500,000 of that money for local nonprofits to help with youth activities, mental health services and substance abuse.

Jordan’s motion to ask the mayor to approve disbursement of the money passed by a vote of 8-1 with Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua opposed, saying he would prefer to not have a dollar amount attached to the request in case other priorities arise.

In an unrelated action, the Council also voted unanimously to waive an $860 City Hall auditorium rental fee for Pentucket Players.

Angelica Jeffreys, president of Pentucket Players, asked for the waiver explaining that due to COVID-19 the acting troupe has not been able to perform and as a result could use the money. She noted the group contributed previously to the upkeep of the auditorium, including help with replacing lighting.

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