Haverhill Mayor to Celebrate New Stretch of Fiorentini Rail Trail as Regional Pathway Vision Moves Forward

Mayor James J. Fiorentini will host a ribbon-cutting tomorrow (Sept. 22) at 4 p.m. in front of Crescent Yacht Club on Ferry Street to celebrate completion of the latest stretch of the city’s popular recreational pathway along the Bradford side of the Merrimack River.

The public is invited to the ceremony, and snacks and refreshments will be served courtesy of the yacht club.

The $1.3 million state-funded project extended the Fiorentini Rail Trail approximately 1,100 feet from the Basiliere Bridge on Route 125 to Railroad Street.

The latest stretch adds to the existing mile-long developed trail that runs opposite the downtown side of the Merrimack River between the Comeau and Basiliere bridges. The pathway follows Mayor Fiorentini’s vision of a recreational trail that encircles downtown and eventually connects to walking trails in Groveland and the Border to Boston Trail and East Coast Greenway. Plans are already in the works to extend the trail further east along the river, past the yacht club and former Haverhill Paperboard site to the Groveland Community Trail, which is currently under construction.

The new section will be lighted at night and follows the former Georgetown Branch of the Boston and Maine Railroad. It includes a 10-foot-wide path with two foot shoulders, vegetation clearing, drainage and paving. The timber decking on the small railroad bridge near the yacht club was replaced and railings added to accommodate bicycles and pedestrians. The project includes pedestrian lighting, signs, fencing and landscaping.

The new section is close to public parking near the yacht club, public boat ramps to the Merrimack River, and the city’s George Washington Landing Playground, also developed during Mayor Fiorentini’s tenure. The city will soon be erecting signage depicting President Washington’s visit to Bradford at that spot of the ferry landing in 1789.

Haverhill City Council voted four years ago to name the Bradford rail trail after Mayor Fiorentini in recognition of the mayor being the visionary behind it.

Other facts about the new stretch of rail trail:

  • $1.3 million state-funded project.  No cost to Haverhill city budget.
  • Onyx Corporation of Acton is General Contractor.
  • Drainage and sewer replaced and upgraded in area.
  • Project preserved an old ‘tell-tale’ hanging chain that indicated low train clearance.  A section of the track was preserved as a display on site.
  • Failed train trestle on Ferry Street near Crescent Yacht Club was eliminated but parts of it were added to the abutments of the new trail.
  • Planning is underway by the state to create an eastward linkage to the Groveland Community Trail currently under construction (a large portion of which runs along the same Georgetown Branch Line railroad.
  • Rep. Linda Dean Campbell (D-Methuen) secured additional funding for roadway improvements to the intersection of Ferry and Railroad streets.
  • The city will be assuming care and custody of the Rail Trail.
  • Project is 99 percent complete, with some signage and plantings left.
  • An alternative to fencing in the National Grid lot is being developed

Mayor Fiorentini Announces Signing of New, Ward-Based Councilors, School Reps

Governor Charlie Baker on Friday signed long-awaited legislation changing how Haverhill elects city councilors and School Committee members to a mostly ward-based system, Mayor James J. Fiorentini announced.

There will now be 11 city councilors, one each to represent the city’s seven voting wards and four at-large councilors to represent the city as a whole. Previously, nine city councilors were each at-large.

The School Committee will increases from seven to 11 members, one each to represent the city’s seven wards and three at-large members to represent the city as a whole. The mayor will be the eleventh School Committee member. The bill also reduces School Committee terms from four to two years. Those elected to four-year terms last November, however, will complete their current four-year terms.

The change in representation will begin with the 2023 municipal elections.

Mayor Fiorentini has advocated for many years to elect most city councilors by ward – a proposal he first made when he first ran for mayor in 2003, stressed during his 2019 re-election campaign and has reiterated numerous times over the years.

“I have long felt that the best way to deliver good neighborhood constituent service is by having neighborhood councilors” Mayor Fiorentini said. “Neighborhood councilors know which streets need to be paved, they know the problems in the neighborhoods, and they will advocate for their neighborhoods. Ward representation is also a better means of having a city council that reflects the broad diversity of the city.”

The state House and Senate approved the legislation – An act providing for the election of at-large and ward councilors and school committee members in the city of Haverhill – earlier this summer.

Haverhill residents last fall voted by a 2-1 margin in favor of ward representation in a non-binding referendum. City Councilors in March voted to send the city’s petition to the legislature.

“I have long felt that the best way to deliver good neighborhood constituent service is by having neighborhood councilors. Neighborhood councilors know which streets need to be paved, they know the problems in the neighborhoods, and they will advocate for their neighborhoods. Ward representation is also a better means of having a city council that reflects the broad diversity of the city.”

James J. Fiorentini, Haverhill Mayor

Mayor Fiorentini Announces Breezeline Cable TV Provider Coming to Haverhill

Mayor James J. Fiorentini is negotiating final terms with a new major cable TV and internet provider to compete with Comcast and expects to finalize a licensing agreement with Breezeline following a public hearing Aug. 31 at City Hall.

The announcement is years in the making, delivering on Mayor Fiorentini’s promise to address residents’ pleas for secondary competition by providing alternative options in the local market.

Breezeline, a subsidiary of Cogeco company, is the eighth largest cable operator in the US and has proposed spending $28 million to build, maintain and make available its fiber-broadband service to Haverhill households, businesses, schools and other municipal entities. Breezeline will be providing over 300 channels and products similar to what residents are currently receiving from the city’s existing cable/internet provider, according to Breezeline’s Haverhill presentation.

Company officials will speak in greater detail about their technology and products at the required Aug. 31 public hearing, to be held at 4 p.m. at Haverhill City Hall. The company’s local presentation and public hearing notice can be found on the city’s website: https://www.cityofhaverhill.com/news_detail_T30_R71.php

“Since the earliest days of taking office, we have been actively searching for a second cable company in Haverhill to provide competition and options for our residents and businesses,” Mayor Fiorentini said. “I am pleased to report that we have finally found one.”

The city in 2020 signed a new, 10-year non-exclusive contract with Comcast that includes funding for Haverhill’ local access community television operation. Under federal law, Haverhill’s agreement with Breezeline must have similar terms and must not give either company a competitive advantage.

The current Comcast contract allows other companies to service Haverhill, and the mayor has been actively soliciting and talking with other cable companies in response to pleas from residents for more options. Haverhill’s large geographical size and other challenges have stymied the city’s efforts to recruit a second major cable provider – until now.

Breezeline (formerly known as Atlantic Broadband), is a subsidiary of Cogeco Communications, and has annual US revenues of $750 million, according to its Haverhill proposal. Established in 1957, the company provides Internet, TV, Streaming TV, Voice and enterprise services to businesses and residential customers in the US and Canada. Breezeline’s US headquarters is in Quincy, Massachusetts.

The company’s fiber-broadband network passes through more than 1.6 million homes and businesses in 12 states. Utilizing a service called “Fiber-to-the-Premises,”
the advanced technology is designed to serve not only residences, but also schools, libraries, hospitals, retailers, and other businesses, according to the company’s proposal

Breezeline’s $28 million Haverhill investment is coming from its own operating capital, without any loans or outside financial institutions, according to its proposal. The proposal includes community support through financial and in-kind donations as well as commitments to environmental and social goals and responsibility.

Mayor Fiorentini along with Breezeline officials and the city’s cable lawyer and cable advisory committee will make a formal presentation to City Council in September.

Mayor Fiorentini Distributes $500K For Summer Youth Activities

Mayor James J. Fiorentini with city councilors and a committee of volunteers welcomed dozens of residents and non-profit youth service providers to City Hall Friday to distribute $500,000 for summer youth activities and projects.

The money, which comes from the city’s federal American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funds, will pay for kids to go to summer camp, go to the YMCA, the YWCA, the Boys and Girls Club, take kayak lessons, learn to swim and much more (see the full list below).

The goal of the Youth Activities and Mental Health fund is to support youth activities and youth who traditionally experience isolation. Low-income and minority children, and groups that support them, were given priority. Funding also prioritized activities over programs that require planning, development or hiring of staff.

“Our young people have been especially hard hit by the pandemic,” Mayor Fiorentini said. “The social and educational isolation of the past two-plus years imposed a terrible burden on our kids. This one-time funding is a chance to do some very meaningful and necessary things to improve the lives of our children and teens.”

The mayor singled out Committee Chairman George Moriarty and City Councilors Melinda Barrett and Tom Sullivan for their efforts bringing the grant program to fruition.

“Friday’s happy event was made possible by the hard and great work of our Youth Activities Committee and the two councilors who were on it,” the mayor said, also commending city staff who “really kicked into overdrive to make certain this got done.”

The mayor and City Council approved $500,000 for this year’s grant program. This past spring, the mayor formed a 15-person committee to review proposals. The committee consisted of city councilors, the school superintendent, community leaders, neighborhood representation and non-profits.

Mayor Fiorentini recently announced that he will be funding the grant program again next year.

The city broadly advertised the program and solicited applications over several months with a focus on community-based organizations, athletic leagues, the faith community, public schools, veterans’ organizations, and individuals including parents and grandparents.

In addition to local media, social media and the city’s website, information and applications were distributed to Haverhill Public Schools, the Chamber of Commerce, Northern Essex Community College and the UMass iHub.  

In total, the committee received $933,000 in requests, eventually funding just over half that amount. Recipients received funding Friday, July 8, after signing agreements and providing tax information. Recipients of larger amounts are required to make regular reports.  

Below are brief descriptions of a few of the proposals submitted:

  • Athletics: The Haverhill Girls Soccer League proposed improvements to the athletic fields at the American Legion property, while two boxing clubs underscored the connection between academic learning and athletic achievement.
  • Music & Arts: One applicant proposed music production classes, while another proposed engaging youth in painting projects around the city.
  • Education: The Haverhill Public Schools, as well as community education providers, were well represented with proposals. They included violence preventing programs, camperships, and academic learning classes. The UMass iHub submitted an application to introduce youth to new technologies. HP3 offers a system-wide career awareness and career development program.
  • Civic: The Chamber of Commerce proposed a summer series to connect 105 at-risk youth to mental health activities, physical education programs, and cultural connections.

The breakdown of the applicants was as follows:

  • Parent, grandparent, guardian, individual (3)
  • Educational Institutions (10)
  • Community-Based Organization (9)
  • Faith-Based (4)
  • Private Individual (2)
  • Athletic Leagues & Clubs (6)
  • Businesses and Civic Groups (2)

Youth Activities and Mental Health Fund Awards:

VIP Haverhill/International Institute of Greater Lawrence Scope of Services: The applicant submitted two proposals:

  • Cell Dreamer-Student Version is an eight-week personal development course that helps at-risk youth to discover new coping methods and positive behaviors. The course empowers them to meet overwhelming challenges, such as isolation, depression, and learning loss. Activities include self-reflection, engaging exercises, video modules, daily motivating texts, and weekly coaching.
  • The applicant seeks funds to provide celebratory, recreational, and team building activities for youth. Included will be an trip to Canobie Lake Park; kayaking with police and youth; La Vida Center for Outdoor Education and Leadership at Gordon College; youth-led annual Walk for Peace.
  • Paint Shoe City

87 Washington St.

Scope of Services: Provide a one-day a week summer Public Art Initiative for youth ages 12-18. The youth will bring beautiful, meaningful, and purposeful art to Downtown Haverhill. Locations for the murals will be identified and approved by the city. The program will teach youth the fundamentals of mural painting, develop their appreciation for the city, and encourage socialization skills and peer-to-peer engagement.

  • Aaron’s Presents

Scope of Services: Working with 30+ students at the Nettle School in Haverhill, the core program – called Givers & Visionaries – provides a unique mentioning process that allows youth to be the leaders of projects. Through this process, the youth become more engaged civically, acquire greater awareness of organizations, people, and events in their community. They practice social-emotional skills like empathy. They learn job skills and college readiness skills. Potential projects include volunteering at an animal shelter, engaging with kids in a foster home, planning activities for Afghan refugee children.

  • All Saints Parish

120 Bellevue Ave.

Scope of Services: The focus is on breaking down isolation by engaging youth in weekly activities such as basketball, Jenga, spike ball, food and roasting marshmallows, and trips to Canobie Lake Park and Six Flags. Encourages socialization skills, addresses youth isolation, especially for at-risk youth, and allows for positive peer-to-peer engagement.

  • Fostering Hope (501.c(3)

Scope of Services: The applicant submitted two proposals: (a) Applicant proposes to collaborate with the Haverhill Office of the Department of Children and Families to host a Christmas Holiday Party for teens in foster care, through the DCF office. The party will include a DJ, dancing, crafts, puzzles, movie, games, photo booth, sensory room, food and drinks.

(b) The second proposal proposes to work again with the DCF office in Haverhill to host aSibling Ties event that will unite brothers and sisters in separate foster homes. The event breaks down the isolation from family that siblings experience when sent to different foster homes.

  •  Boys & Girls Club of Haverhill

55 Emerson St.

Scope of Services: Submitted two programs, both recommended for funding by the Committee.

  • The Club offers a music program for fourteen young women who participate in a chorus group. As noted by research, music accelerates brain development, language acquisition, and reading skills. The Club proposes to purchase equipment, music sheets, microphones, and other related items to support the music instruction and performance.
  • The Club seeks funds to support camperships for 120 low income, at-risk youth, who will spend a week at Camps Tasker, in Newton, N.H. The camp experience will have help breakdown the isolation and disengagement experienced by too many low income, at risk youth in Haverhill.
  • Caleb Dustin Hunkin Middle School

480 South Main St.

Scope of Services: The school proposes an eight-week program to engage students in positive activities that will develop personal goals, build interpersonal skills, increase feelings of self-worth and self-awareness, and contribute to the community. The eight weeks include: Intro/Ice Breakers, Team Building and Cooperative Games, NECC field trip, Volunteer at Homeless Shelter, Nature Walk at Winnekenni, and Ropes Course field trip.

  • Haverhill Public Schools/Burnham School

45 Fountain St.

Scope of Services: The Haverhill Public Schools will use the funds to pay for the membership of at-risk high school students in physical education and sports related activities offered at three establishments: (a)  Premier Martial Arts one-year memberships for six students. (b) Inner City Boxing Club one-year memberships and gear for twelve at-risk youth. (c) Cedardale Health Club three-month memberships for 12 at-risk high school students.

  • Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce

2 Merrimack St.

Scope of Services: The Chamber of Commerce will partner with Cedar’s Foods, Museum of Printing, City Hall, Duston-Duston Garrison House, Plum Island Kayak, and HC Media to sponsor a series of activities that will address the mental and physical health of at-risk youth, while engaging them in cultural significant landmarks in Haverhill. Each programming location will be a 3-4 hour event, with lunch. The goal of the events is to breakdown isolation and to reengage youth in collaborative and team activities, enhance their knowledge of Haverhill, and promote their physical and mental health and build their socialization skills, especially through interactions with adults from business, media, government, and the cultural sector.

Haverhill Public Schools/Girls Empowered Means Success (GEMS)

137 Monument St.

Scope of Services: The GEMS program will serve 15 female English Language Learners attending Haverhill High School. The group will meet on a weekly basis, under the leadership of two female support faculty. The group sessions will involve discussion, role modeling, hands-on activities, videos, guest speakers, field trips, and community service activities. The goal of the program is to build greater self-awareness and guide the youth to make positive, healthy decisions for their person lives.

Haverhill Girls Softball League

Scope of Services: The League proposes to use the funds to offset the costs of supporting the games for the young girls of Haverhill. Expenses that may be covered include equipment, fees, uniforms, insurance, bathroom facilities, and umpires. The League will maintain a complete list of the expenses paid through the Fund.

Golden Hill School PTO

140 Boardman St.

Scope of Services: The PTO supports the school by purchasing items that the school budget is unable to cover. Items include teaching subscriptions, enrichment programs, and equipment, especially for the playground area. As part of its fundraising campaign, the PTO sponsored the first ever Golden Hill/Nettle Fun Run.

Nettle School PTO

150 Boardman St.

Scope of Services: The PTO supports Nettle School by purchasing items not covered by the annual school budget. Among the items the funds will support are teaching subscriptions, enrichment programs, and equipment. As part of its fundraising campaign, the Nettle School PTO collaborated with the Golden Hill School PTO to sponsor the first ever Golden Hill/Nettle Fun Run.

John Greenleaf Whittier Middle School PTO

265 Concord St., Haverhill Middle School

Scope of Services: The school proposes to help at-risk youth play games, exercise, and build comradery through teamwork, by supporting the basketball program. The funds will be used to purchase four playground grade basketball hoops, three playground grade recycled plastic picnic tables, two outdoor storage units for equipment, with the balance for delivery and installation costs.

Somebody Cares New England

358 Washington St.

Scope of Services: The applicant submitted five proposals:

  • Sponsor a Back to School Bash for the youth in the Mount Washington neighborhood. The outdoor activity will include basketball games, relay races on an inflatable course, dunk tank, carnival style games, dinner, dessert. Each youth will be provided with school necessities from the “School Shop.”
  • The applicant will host several monthly outings for 18-21 at-risk youth. The youth will visit a trampoline park, laser tag site, nature hikes, etc. The goal is to promote overall well being and mental health for as many as twenty-six youth.
  • The applicant proposes to use the funds to overhaul the youth game area. New items will include a pool table, foosball tables, and an air hockey table. By engaging in these games, youth will be drawn to the center, will reengage with peers, isolation will be broken down, and youth will begin to experience improvements in their overall well-being.
  • The applicant will host a basketball camp and an art camp, serving approximately 50 youth between 7-18 years old. Youth can choose either one or both. Youth will engage in basketball drills and practices, while other youth are engaged in art projects. During breaks, the youth will meet in small groups, with a leader, to discuss relevant topics: conflict resolution, peer pressure, bullying, etc. Other youth will be engaged as volunteers as part of the community outreach project.
  • The applicant will launch a Young Adult Program serving low-to-moderate income youth from the Mount Washington neighborhood. The goal of the program is to help young  people make the jump to adulthood and navigate independent living. Social activities and educational opportunities will be incorporated into the program.
  • Haverhill Inner City Boxing

Lafayette Square

The Club will host two boxing events as vehicles to promote awareness of mental health issues. This idea was suggested by a sixteen year-old girl who works out at the club, who herself suffers from agoraphobia. Her time at the boxing club has helped her to face this challenge and overcome it. She wants to shed light on mental health challenges faced by Haverhill youth. The two boxing events will provide a “captive audience” where the message can be delivered. The funds will be used to create and distribute posters and prizes. A professional therapist will be engaged and event space will be obtained.

Luis E. Quinones

1 Water St.

Scope of Services: An online music production course taught by Mr. Quinones. The course will include twelve hours of instruction over a six-week period. Mr. Quinones will provide printable pdfs, links, and other resources. He will follow a prescribed course syllabus. Participating youth will need access to a computer and will need to download a free trial music software. The goal of the course is to teach basic music production, but also use this as a way to develop self-confidence, ease isolation, and engage with peers.

Presidential Gardens Neighborhood Association

140 Evergreen Drive

Scope of Services: The program will serve low-income youth ages six to seventeen years of age who live in the Section 8 property. The Youth Program sponsored by the Neighborhood Association will provide homework assistance, arts & crafts lessons, field trips, and snacks. The program will serve 26 youth during the summer and will breakdown isolation and promote healthy conversations and positive peer-to-peer and adult interactions.

Rehoboth Lighthouse Full Gospel Church

409 Washington St.

Scope of Services: The funds will be used to support youth programming, a creative development program, a community mental health and wellness fair. The focus will be on addressing mental health through positive creative expression. Youth will learn about the arts, theater, music, public speaking, writing, technology skills. Group sessions will address topics such as trauma, stigma, DEI, problem solving, de-escalation, and self-reflection and self-expression.

  • Ruth’s House

111 Lafayette Square

Scope of Services: Ruth’s House will use the funds to cover the fees for music classes, sports activities, and camperships for low-income, at-risk youth whose families are unable to pay for these fees. In addition, youth will receive scholarships tied to the number of hours youth devote to community service.

  • Silver Hill School PTO

675 Washington St.

Scope of Services: The school will bring in the L-Line Dancers to conduct two performances: one for the third graders and one for the fourth graders. The 45-minute performance includes dance routines and a discussion of topics such as anti-bullying, respect, responsibility, and leading an alcohol and drug-free lifestyle. Core values are taught through the fun aspects of a wonderful and entertaining dance routine.

  • UMass Lowell Innovation Center

2 Merrimack St.

Scope of Services: The funds will be used to conduct a Hacking for Design  course for at-risk, low-income youth recruited in partnership with local neighborhood and community-based organizations. The high school will also be involved in identifying and recruiting youth. The course will introduce the youth to 3-D printing, design thinking, problem solving, and teamwork. The curriculum will include guest speaker from UMass Lowell and from local businesses. Educational and career opportunities will be emphasized.

  • Urban Bridges, Inc.

26 White St.

Scope of Services: The applicant submitted two proposals, both of which were approved by the Advisory Committee.
(a) The applicant proposes to hire and pay teen mentors for its Academy of Creative Arts program. The program is an after-school music and arts program that allows children to explore their boundless creativity and musicality. The teen mentors will work under the supervision of adult professional educators.

(b)The applicant seeks funds to cover the fee for six students who have had                                                                   several years of group music lessons to advance to individualized instruction. The one-on-one instruction will be for ten lessons at $30 per lesson.

  • Haverhill YMCA

81 Winter St.

Scope of Services: The YMCA proposes to support 50 teen memberships for three months. The YMCA will also offer 100 low income, at-risk youth scholarships to the summer camps at Tricklin’ Falls. In support of its pick-up basketball league, the YMCA will cover referee costs, reversible pinnies, and winning team awards.

  • YWCA Northeastern Massachusetts

107 Winter St.

Scope of Services: To compensate for the time youth lost during the pandemic, the YWCA proposes an 8-week program for 52 children ages 5 to 14 years of age. The themed curriculum focuses on social, emotional, and academic development. The weeks will include sports week with a trip to a triple A baseball game, adventure week with a trip. Stem week will include a visit to the Museum of Science.

  • Haverhill Downtown Boxing, Inc.

84 Locust St.

Scope of Services: The Club will use the funds to cover the membership fee for low-income, at-risk youth. The Club will enroll the youth in the beginners boxing program, which uses the training experience to reinforce the value of education, well-being, confidence, and teamwork. The boxing instructors regular stress attendance in the club relies on attendance in school.

  • Haverhill Youth Soccer

Scope of Services: The applicant will use the funds to cover the enrollment fee of low-income, at-risk youth who often lack the financial resources to participate in the league. The applicant will coordinate with the city to identify and recruit youth who meet CDBG income guidelines to ensure the target population is engaged.

  • VIP Nettle School

150 Boardman St.

Scope of Services: The applicant will develop and coordinate community service projects that will be carried out by the students at the Nettle School. The projects will include cooking meals three times for residents of the Emmaus House shelter; community clean-up at Riverside Park; ten care packages with clothing; ten pet adoption packages; and a youth tournament.

  • Plum Island Kayak

Scope of Services: The applicant serve 100+ low income, at-risk youth at a Haverhill location. The applicant will provide informal instruction in kayaking, paddle boarding, teamwork, and pay the fee for this kind of instruction.

  • CCF Ministries of Haverhill, Washington St.

Scope of Services: The applicant seeks funds to enroll ten at-risk, low-income youth in three months of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. In addition to the training and physical fitness aspects of the course, the youth will learn winning attitudes, positive self-image, and improved mental health. The classes also enable youth to engage in peer-to-peer support to help break down the isolation caused by the pandemic. 

  • Haverhill Public Schools Youth Risk Survey

Conducted and analyzed by the American Institute for Research, HPS students were surveyed on variety of behaviors with results reported to the School Committee and community in February and March.

  • Haverhill Public Private Partnership (HP3)

HP3 will use the funds mainly to hire staff and transport students to and from workforce, and to educational mentoring opportunities.

Salvation Army, 395 Main Street

Scope of Services: The organization will sponsor ten camp scholarships for at-risk youth who would otherwise be unable to attend an overnight summer camp. Camp activities will include outdoor adventuring, physical fitness, STEAM, literacy, and the arts. The site is Camp Wonderland in Sharon, MA.

Leaving the Streets Ministry, Lafayette Square

Scope of Services: The organization will address the mental health issues of youth, especially low-income and youth of color, who are disconnected from positive activities. Leaving the Streets Ministry will reengage youth through the organization’s extensive outreach network and street presence. The organization will offer activities such as sports, peer-to-peer groups, adult mentoring, and neighborhood clean-up projects.

Mayor Fiorentini Announces Expansion of Downtown Haverhill’s Public Boat Docks

Improvements Pave Way for Riverboat Cruises, Kayaking

In preparation of a new passenger riverboat coming to downtown Haverhill and the return of Plum Island Kayak, the city is expanding and making other improvements to public boat docks behind the Tap restaurant off Washington Street, Mayor James J. Fiorentini has announced.

City Council this week approved a request from the Harbor Commission to spend $8,000 from its Waterways account, funded primarily by private dock permit fees, for three more pieces of docking to add to the six sections already there. The city installed the seasonal docks about 10 days ago.

A winding accessibility gangway leads to the docks, which are popular for fishing and allow boaters to tie up their private crafts and Plum Island to store its kayaks.

Sam Amari, chairman of the Harbor Commission, said the additional docks have already been ordered and should in place in a few weeks.  

The Commission previously gave unanimous approval to plans for Newburyport-based Yankee Clipper Tours to begin offering day and nighttime river cruises out of downtown this summer. The boat, with room for 35 to 44 passengers, is expected to make its way here in mid to late June.

“The boat is a 30-foot, aluminum catamaran deck boat, and the model I’ll follow is basically the same as I do in Newburyport, which is one-hour public trips, 90-minute sunset cruises and private charters and some pro bono work for nonprofits and environmental groups,” Captain Paul Aziz, owner of Yankee Clipper Tours, told the Commission in January.

This summer will be the third year Plum Island Kayak will be operating from the Washington Street docks, where it also has a ticket booth.

Mayor Fiorentini has directed police to work with the Commission to provide additional lighting and security cameras at and around the public docks.

Mayor Fiorentini Encourages Residents to Apply for $1,000’s from New Federal Tax Programs

New tax rules have made millions available to people who have never filed taxes or have not filed in recent years

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini is calling on residents with low or no incomes to apply for thousands of dollars available to individuals and families this year through several expanded federal tax credit programs.

“It is critical that we get the word out about these new and expanded programs,” Mayor Fiorentini said, inviting people to visit www.findyourfunds.org for more information. “Individuals and families could get thousands of dollars in tax credits this year, even if they have no income, low income of or have never filed before. And people can file for these benefits ever after April 19 if they do not have a filing requirement. “

Recent federal policy changes have enabled adjustments in tax rules that are making millions of dollars available to people who have never had to file taxes before or have not filed in recent years.

“The COVID-19 pandemic’s economic fallout has had a devastating and disproportionate impact on the economic situation of low-income people who were already struggling,” Mayor Fiorentini said. “This money can alleviate the economic burden of many people, so I urge our residents to be diligent and find out if they qualify for this child tax credit.”

People can apply by filing a tax return to get this money and can get free help via websites like www.findyourfunds.org if they make $60,000 or less.

IRS data shows that at least 58,000 children in Massachusetts could miss out on the Child Tax Credit, which has the potential to cut child poverty by 40% and has been shown to reduce food insufficiency by 26%. In Lawrence, at least 743 people could miss out on this money.

Massachusetts residents who file taxes this year may be eligible for:

  • Up to $3,600 per child with the Child Tax Credit
  • Any missed COVID-19 stimulus payments for individuals and their children/dependents, up to $3,200 per person
  • Up to $6,728 with the federal Earned Income Tax Credit, based on number of children/dependents
  • Up to $2,018 with the Massachusetts Earned Income Tax Credit, based on number of children/dependents

This year, there are thousands of dollars available for families with: low or no income; who had a baby in 2020 or 2021; who do not have dependent children; who are experiencing homelessness.

In addition, Massachusetts residents may sign up for any payments missed in the last three years and receive the money.

If a family got monthly money from the IRS in 2021 for their kids, $250 or $300 per month per child, with the Advance Child Tax Credit, they must file a tax return to receive the remaining money.

Individuals who are not required to file taxes because of the amount of money they make can file at any time until the IRS closes for the season in late Fall — but it is recommended to file soon to get the funds.

Mayor Fiorentini Announces $23.6M for North Avenue Rebuild

Mayor James J. Fiorentini has announced that Haverhill has been authorized by the Merrimack Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization (MVMPO) to receive $23.6 million in state and federal funds to rehabilitate and improve North Avenue. 

The authorization was made at the MVMPO meeting on March 23 on a motion and request by Mayor Fiorentini. 

The project, which is scheduled to begin in 2027, stretches from Main Street (Route 125) to Plaistow, N.H. and is to include repaving the roadway and installing new sidewalks and bike lanes on both sides all the way to the state line. The mayor indicated the roadway is currently in poor condition and that the city will do temporary paving starting early this summer that will last for the five years before the project starts.

PHOTO: North Avenue heading north toward Plaistow to the left of the mayor.

“We cannot wait five years for our residents to have a smooth ride up North Avenue, one of the major gateways to our city, so I have directed our DPW to do micro-surfacing in the meantime,” the mayor said, noting that micro-surfacing is a surface paving technique with a life expectancy of approximately five years.

The North Avenue design includes tree plantings, improved drainage, lane realignment, roadway redesign, and painting and striping to slow traffic and improve safety.

Mayor Fiorentini along with City Engineer John Pettis are scheduled to update City Council on the North Avenue project at Tuesday’s meeting at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

The Merrimack Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization, which distributes state and federal transportation funds through the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), recently announced funding and new timetables for local projects. The 2027 start date for the North Avenue project could happen sooner based on funding and how soon other projects on the local TIP list move forward.

Mayor Fiorentini said the $23.6 million is believed to be the most funding the city has ever received from the state or federal government for a local transportation project.

The city put itself in line for the record funding due to a prior settlement the city made with Wingate Gate Healthcare that allowed the company to build an assisted-living complex on North Avenue and pay the city $400,000 in 2017 and 2018 to design the proposed North Avenue roadway improvement project. By designing the project upfront, the city was able to gain approval ahead of other transportation projects in the district.

“North Avenue is an important project and part of my vision and plan to update all the major gateways into the city,” Mayor Fiorentini said. “Our gateways are the first impressions many people get when they come to Haverhill, so we want them to look updated and well maintained.”

North Avenue will be the next entranceway to Haverhill to be redone under Mayor Fiorentini’s “Gateways to the City” vision that his administration has been implementing at key vehicular entry points to Haverhill.

Mayor Fiorentini’s administration has developed plans to rebuild as many entranceways to the city as possible. Other gateways that have been rebuilt and improved in recent years include Salem Street and South Main Street. Portions of Main Street and Broadway also were redone in the past few years.

“These projects take years to plan and obtain funding, but it is important to continue to move them forward over time,” Mayor Fiorentini said.

Mayor Fiorentini Announces $1 Million Donation for Indoor Tennis/Pickleball Facility at Haverhill High School

Local philanthropist and Haverhill High alumnus Ernie DiBurro is donating $1 million to the city for a new indoor tennis and pickleball facility on the high school campus, Mayor James J. Fiorentini and School Superintendent Dr. Margaret Marotta announced.

The mayor and superintendent made the announcement this afternoon (Tuesday, Jan. 11) at the high school on Monument Street at an event that also included DiBurro, Haverhill Athletic Director Tom O’Brien and High School Principal Jason Meland.  

O’Brien said the proposed new athletic building would be near the Charles C. White Pool and high school gymnasium, but that planning is in the very early stages. The building is expected to cost a approximately $1 million and the mayor said the city would likely cover any costs above that amount.

Ernie DiBurro (left) and Mayor Fiorentini at today’s $1 million HHS donation announcement

O’Brien the new facility will include three tennis courts that can easily be converted to pickleball courts.

“We envision this being a big boost to our high school tennis program as we only have three outdoor courts,” O’brien said. “This will also allow our student-athletes to practice and play all year long and we will also be using it for our physical education classes for tennis and pickleball.” 

Mayor Fiorentini noted the facility will be available on a regular basis for the Haverhill public.

DiBurro, a member of the Haverhill High Class of 1952 and owner of Academy Lanes bowling complex in Bradford, has made several major monetary donations to his alma mater in recent years.  In 2016, he donated $800,000 for a new clubhouse at Haverhill Stadium.

‘I’ve been a lifelong resident and a successful businessman and I love giving back to my high school and city,” DiBurro said.

DiBurro has also contributed funds to outfit a fitness room in the high school pool building and for construction of a large iron gated entrance to the school’s athletic fields. He also paid for fencing to secure the athletic fields and for lighting around the track.

Gov. Baker to swear in Mayor Fiorentini at Haverhill’s Jan. 3 Inauguration Ceremony

Governor Charlie Baker will visit Haverhill on Jan. 3 for the inauguration of James J. Fiorentini’s tenth term as Haverhill’s Mayor.

This is the first time a sitting Massachusetts governor will be participating in the ceremony under Mayor Fiorentini’s watch.  Gov. Baker is expected to administer the oath of public service to Mayor Fiorentini.

“We are extremely honored to have, for the first time, the governor of Massachusetts to attend the inauguration and to conduct the swearing in,” Mayor Fiorentini said. “Governor Baker has been a partner with cities and towns throughout his entire tenure as Governor.  We are honored to have him here.”

The inauguration is at 10 a.m. in the Nicholas J. Ross Auditorium at City Hall, 4 Summer St. The inauguration will be broadcast on local cable television. 

The event is being planned under existing COVID protocols with a small reception to follow outside the auditorium.  Those details could change, however, depending on the status of the pandemic as the inauguration gets closer.

Also being sworn in Jan. 3 are nine city councilors, including three newcomers, and three newly elected members of the Haverhill School Committee.

Councilors being sworn in: Tim Jordan, John Michitson, Melinda Barrett, Joe Bevilacqua, Tom Sullivan, Melissa Lewandowski, Michael McGonagle, Catherine Rogers, and Shaun Toohey.  The City Council will also elect its new president and vice president at a brief business meeting during the inauguration.

School Committee being sworn in: Paul Magliocchetti, Rich Rosa and Maura Ryan-Ciardiello.

Haverhill Police on Course for Prestigious National Accreditation

The city’s police department is just a few days away from becoming one of a handful of Massachusetts law enforcement agencies to be nationally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini and Police Chief Robert Pistone said the department had to meet 180 standards for the national designation, which follows state accreditation achieved by the department in June 2020.

National accreditation is expected to occur Nov. 19 at an online meeting between the national police commission’s review team and Haverhill officers heading the process. The Haverhill force will join Newton, Fall River, Danvers and a few collegiate public safety departments to achieve national Tier I accreditation, according to the www.calea.org website.

“This is a great accomplishment for the department and a testament to the professionalism and dedication that the police chief and all our officers have in being responsible and responsive to the needs of the entire Haverhill community,” Mayor Fiorentini said. “Public safety and our police department will always be a top priority for my administration and national accreditation and everything that goes with it is another positive step forward for our city.”

Recent initiatives that helped Haverhill police meet the CALEA standards include a new behavioral response unit that partners mental health counselors from Leahy Health with officers on service calls involving people with mental illness or in dangerously stressful situations as well as a wellness program headed by a staff person who works with the city’s police officers on fitness, diet, nutrition, and stress counseling.

Called the “Gold Standard in Public Safety,” the CALEA designation certifies that the department and its officers are operating under the highest national standards and best practices.

To meet the standards, the department must adopt and train its officers in the latest national recommendations for “de-escalation, pursuits, use-of-force, prisoner custody, recruiting and diversity.”

The accreditation process includes examining how evidence is handled, prisoner lockups, police files, memos, equipment and making sure policies and procedures are up to date.

The department’s updated website www.haverhillpolice.com played an important role in meeting the national standards. It includes information about all the department’s divisions including records, patrol, narcotics, traffic & safety, investigations, prosecution, community policing, administration, animal control and the gang task force. It also includes all the department’s policies and procedures including use of force guidelines as well as a link the department’s popular social media pages.

“We take customer service and protecting the public incredibly seriously and this national accreditation is proof that we have a professional department, said Chief Pistone, noting that national accreditation also lowers the department’s insurance costs. “It is also a testament to the support that we receive from city government. That we have modern, up-to-date equipment and proper staffing that allows us to have various specialty units so we may provide our citizens with the best possible service and protection.”

The local team leading the accreditation process includes Lt. Doreen Champagne, Sgt. Tiffany Clark and Captain Wayne Tracy.

“It’s a lengthy and intense process that assures we are accountable to the community,” Lt. Champagne said. “First we do self-assessment then the CALEA review team comes to review what we’ve done to make sure it meets their standards. Now we have to stay on top of everything and keep making improvements to maintain compliance. It’s an ongoing review that really never ends.”

Established in 1979, CALEA’s goal is to improve policing and professionalism in law enforcement. It offers different programs to police departments, one of them being the accreditation process. Nationwide, just 5 percent of law enforcement agencies are accredited by CALEA.