City Councilors Ask for Update on Altering City Hall Chambers to Fit Larger Boards, Comply with Laws

The Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. Council Chambers in Haverhill City Hall during the era of COVID-19. (WHAV News photograph.)

Click image for Haverhill City Council agenda.

Some Haverhill city councilors are getting ready to have company as the city moves toward additional members taking seats on the City Council and School Committee.

City Councilors Melinda E. Barrett and Thomas J. Sullivan plan to seek an update on expected modifications to the Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. City Council Chambers to accommodate 11 members each on the two elected bodies—up from nine on the City Council and up from seven on the School Committee.

The councilors are asking Mayor James J. Fiorentini for an update on construction that will accommodate the additional members as well as make the 1973-era Chambers accessible to people with disabilities.

A home rule petition backed by voters last year, passed by both branches of the legislature and signed by Gov. Charlie Baker in August moves the city to mostly ward-based representatives.

The City Council will be comprised of seven city councilors elected by ward with four others elected at-large. The school Committee will have seven ward members, three citywide representatives and the mayor as tiebreaker.

Councilors will also hear a request to alter 1974-era sewer easements to accommodate Bethany Community Services’ plans to construct 48 units of senior housing near its existing Merrivista complex at 100 Water St.

The two City Council agenda items are related in that changes are being made to properties affected by the city’s ill-fated urban renewal programs of the 1960s and 1970s. The City Council moved to the former Haverhill High School when the original, Main Street City Hall was demolished. Bethany’s property was developed after residents complained of a “dustbowl” following demolition of almost every building on the street.

The Haverhill City Council meets tonight at 7, remotely and in-person at the Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. Council Chambers, room 202, Haverhill City Hall, 4 Summer St., As a public service, 97.9 WHAV plans to carry the meeting live.

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