Councilors Press Administration to Address Graffiti, Dog Poop, Public Drinking Downtown

A section of the Rep. Brian S. Dempsey Boardwalk along the Merrimack River in downtown Haverhill. (WHAV News photograph.)

Haverhill city councilors are asking the city administration to bring back its graffiti cleanup team and equip it with special cleanup tools after residents again expressed concerns.

Residents Tuesday night discussed the abundance of trash, dog waste, public drinking and graffiti destroying the charm of the city’s downtown boardwalk. Alex Pegnato told councilors about a recent trip he and his wife took there earlier this year.

“I took my wife down the boardwalk and it literally was covered with dog waste. It’s sort of a disgusting place to be. It’s a ton of trash. There’s graffiti all over the benches. There was a man passed out on the grass. There was a man sitting on a bench with a brown bag,” he said.

Pegnato, who was introduced by City Councilor Melissa J. Lewandowski, added the fencing under the Basiliere Bridge has been torn away and there are mattresses and blankets left by people obviously sleeping there.

Another downtown resident, Karl Brunelle, also spoke specifically about graffiti which he said has become worse as of late.

“I’ve been well aware of an alarming increase in tagging on buildings. If you don’t address graffiti, it builds on itself. It only gets worse,” he said.

Acknowledging the problem, Police Chief Robert P. Pistone said, with the use of cameras, culprits in this graffiti case were taken into custody. He said two juveniles painted close to a hundred tags in the area. The chief said residents may anonymously report graffiti violations on the Haverhill Police website.

Pointing to the different aspects of the problem, Lewandowski said the solution calls for a multi-tiered approach. She supported calls from Council President Timothy J. Jordan to place more cameras in the area and Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan for the city to purchase its own graffiti removal machine. She also advocated for warning signs regarding fines for not picking up animal waste and the addition of trash receptacles

The council voted unanimously to send a letter to Mayor James J. Fiorentini asking him to reinstitute the Graffiti Response Team.

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