Fiorentini Declares Lack of Housing a Moral Crisis in Final State of the City Address

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini presented his final State of the City Address last night, tracing his nearly 20 years as mayor from financial crisis to “moral” housing crisis. The address, held at Haverhill City Hall and heard on WHAV, was presented to a room full of current and former state and local officials and other residents. The mayor began by presenting a short video comparing the state of the city in 2003, when he first took office, to present day. “As you saw in the video, back then most of the old shoe factory buildings were abandoned and off the tax rolls, but the worst of it was our finances. Because of the collapse of the municipal hospital, the city’s finances had collapsed and we were left with the largest municipal debt in the history of Massachusetts,” he said.

City Council Honors Haverhill High Boys Swim and Dive Team for Championship Win

Records are made to be broken and last week the Haverhill City Council honored the Haverhill High School Boys Swim and Dive Team and their coach for doing just that. The team swam their way to a Merrimack Valley Conference Championship back in January, their first time doing so in 43 years. Dan Tanguay, a math teacher at Haverhill High and the team’s head coach explained. “We brought back 12 core swimmers this year. We had some very, very promising newcomers.

Haverhill Council Adds Input to $37.5 Million Federal Aid Spending Plan; Public Also Gets Review Chance

The Haverhill City Council added its input Tuesday to preliminary plans for spending $37.5 million in federal COVID-19 aid—one of the final steps required before the public weighs in one more time

That figure represents Haverhill’s portion of $1.9 trillion from the American Rescue Plan Act—or ARPA—to be used for specific purposes, primarily relating to financial needs resulting from the pandemic. A final plan for spending the money must be completed by the end of next year. Mayor James J. Fiorentini said all city departments heads and the public were asked for ideas on how the money could be spent and received no shortage of responses. “We were not able to do all of the things we wanted to do. We had $410 million in requests.

Haverhill Schools Address Sex Education Questions, Clear Misinformation, Note Opt-Out

Of all subjects taught in public schools, officials acknowledge, sex education probably creates the largest blip on a parent’s radar and the topic at Haverhill Public Schools proved Thursday to be no exception. School Committee candidate Carmen Garcia King and Haverhill City Councilor Catherine P. Rogers said parents want to see all materials used in that curriculum before it is taught to their children. “Some of the parents and guardians have reached out to us with questions about what is being taught for sexual education in our schools. They want to be more aware of the curriculum, and we assured them that we would look into it,” Rogers said. School Superintendent Margaret Marotta agreed with the need to keep parents informed, saying more in-depth information about content will begin being provided to them.

Haverhill School Committee Endorses Modular Classrooms for Whittier Middle School

The Haverhill School Committee is supporting a plan to purchase modular classrooms as one means of alleviating overcrowding at the John Greenleaf Whittier School. As WHAV reported previously, that school, which was built in 1957, has a lack of classroom space as well as structural issues and obsolete technology. A number of parents attended last night’s Committee meeting to express support for modular classrooms. Among them, Jennifer Morse, mother of a Whittier School student. “I’m concerned that the education is not equitable at JGW due to the lack of space. The lack of space directly impacts both teaching and learning,” she said.

City Council Approves Plan to Allow Expansion of What Were Formerly In-Law Apartments in Haverhill

Following several months of discussion and public input, the Haverhill City Council on Tuesday, approved an amended version of an ordinance that allows for more accessory dwelling units, once known as in-law apartments, within the city. A proposal to do just that was presented to the Council back in November of last year. Although the proposal had the endorsement of Mayor James J. Fiorentini, councilors said there was not enough information then to okay the plan. Instead, they sent the proposal to the body’s Administration and Finance Committee for further review. Councilor Melinda E. Barrett, Committee chairperson, presented the updated proposal, saying it addressed many concerns.

Haverhill Council Makes It Official, Cancelling Meeting to Accommodate Mayor’s Speech

The Haverhill City Council made it official on Tuesday, voting to cancel its regular meeting scheduled for Tuesday, March 21. That cancelation was to avoid competing with Mayor James J. Fiorentini’s “state of the city” address scheduled for that same time slot. Two weeks ago, the Council voted 5-4 to repeal its own rule allowing the mayor to call off a meeting when giving his annual address. Councilors did ask the mayor if he would consider presenting his speech one hour earlier allowing members to attend and then hold their meeting at their regular time. The mayor declined, however, saying, if need be, he would make his speech at the same time at the same time as the council meeting, just across the hall in the auditorium.

Decision on Cannabis Retailer’s Fight Over ‘Impact’ Fees a Year Away; Judge Decries ‘Bickering’

A court decision over the legality of cannabis “impact fees” Haverhill charges a local retailer is about a year away. As expected, the final pre-trial conference Tuesday, presided over by Judge Jeffrey T. Karp in Essex County Superior Court, Newburyport, did nothing to resolve the issue itself, but did set a date for the court case to begin. In fact, the court heard no peripheral issues such as settlement talks between Haverhill Stem and Mayor James J. Fiorentini and the City of Haverhill. Stem attorney Thomas K. MacMillan told the judge he expects the trial will take between 15 to 25 days, a length of time the judge said would not be available until next year noting that, due to COVID-19, the court is only now hearing cases from 2016. Ultimately, all parties agreed to a start date of Monday, Feb.