Downtown Haverhill Dining Could be Accompanied by Weekend Street Closings

Washington Street occasionally closes for special events. Here, crowds gather during a previous River Ruckus. (Photograph courtesy of Sarah Blackstone.)

A request by Mayor James J. Fiorentini to extend last year’s outdoor dining plan was tabled by city councilors for the required 10 days, but a complementary plan to seasonally close Washington Street to pedestrians advanced for discussion Tuesday night.

Councilor John A. Michitson said an upcoming Citizen Outreach Committee meeting ponders a plan to close Washington Street to traffic, making it a pedestrian way on weekend evenings during summer months.

“What we’d like to do is to look at closing Washington Street and Wingate Street on Friday and Saturday evenings and, what we’d like to do is look at some of the issues such as parking, get feedback from the residents and businesses that live down there. The (Greater Haverhill) Chamber also has an opinion on this,” he said.

Michitson gave credit for the plan to former Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien. He said the meeting will also consider an idea of providing shaded areas at Haverhill city playgrounds.

The public is invited to take part on Wednesday, April 13, beginning at 6 p.m. in the City Council office.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Council approved allowing downtown restaurants to expand seating into off-street parking areas, sidewalks and, in some cases, the street. This year, the mayor’s plan would extend open-air dining to all areas of the city, not just downtown.

Participating restaurants would be required to limit patrons to the businesses’ occupancy limits. They also must maintain public walkways and all furniture must be portable. The dining extension would run through Nov. 9.

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