Good News from A Great City Haverhill, MA
The Heartbeat of Haverhill feels that local politics is where its at. It’s the place where your vote can make the most difference, and the place where you can learn more about city projects directly from people in the know.
On Saturday September 19, 2015, Mayor Fiorentini held a community coffee. These coffee gatherings are held regularly. It just so happened this one was on THOH’s side of the river. It was held at Roma Restaurant and offered the promise of free coffee, donuts and information.
Most of the questions from the 30-40 Bradford neighbors centered around traffic, roads, plowing, paving, traffic lights, and traffic patterns affected by new development. And since the majority of the questions were for and about the streets closest to our homes, we all shared the same points of reference. The fact that the traffic lights on South Main Street are not synced got some discussion, as did the need for a traffic light for Farrwood Drive residents on Rte 125 where 4 accidents occurred in a short span in June.
The Hunking School is another hot topic. It was noted that the new school construction is on budget and on schedule with a careful monitoring system in place to keep things running smoothly. A question on several residents’ minds was whether the new school had a dreaded flat roof that many believe hastened the demise of the previous building. The architectural renderings do not show it, but the roof is pitched. The new footprint of the school is much larger, and the need for that was debated with some feeling the student population growth of the last few years is a new trend while the Mayor expressed more skepticism about how much the quantity of school children will grow. But he felt the new building will address current and future needs including better facilities for student athletics and gym as well as technology and that it will be a beacon for new residents. Most attendees as well as State Rep Linda Dean Campbell and School Committee Member Joe Bevilacqua expressed that they were impressed with the financial tactics that made the dream of the new school a reality without creating a financial burden for the citizens.
Roma’s windows and back deck overlook the Merrimack River and the strip of land, formerly a railroad track, that stands between them. This was the perfect setting to discuss the developing Bradford Rail Trail. Construction is set to start in a matter of weeks and during that time, the rail trail will be closed. The closure will last up to one year. One of the interesting parts of the conversation on the rail trail was when a resident requested that the trail be plowed in winter to maintain our access to the natural world and promote good health through walking. This possibility is being investigated but with a caveat that our roadways will always be plowed first.
The discussion took a more serious tact when the discussion turned to Haverhill’s response to the opioid scourge. We learned that a grant was forthcoming that will enable Haverhill to have a program similar to Gloucester’s. That after interviewing addicts, it was learned that the road to addiction started in the early and mid teens. That knowledge led to more emphasis being placed on prevention at earlier ages with extra health staff at the schools. With regard to discarded needles and potential drug activity HPD Lieutenant Barbiere (SP?) noted that making Narcam available to resuscitate people who have experienced overdoses is a temporary solution at best as the drug is still in the system and can cause a subsequent overdose even after the Narcan is administered. The best solution is treatment. One resident made a brilliant suggestion that there be a page dedicated to battle against drug abuse showing where to provide anonymous tips, what to do if needles are found and contacts for help. That idea received wide applause among attendees.
Personally, THOH is going to finally find out about the ownership of a neglected plot of land.
But in reality, Bradford is small section of Haverhill, so this blog post isn’t really about the individual needs of our specific neighbors. The purpose of this blog is to let citizens of Haverhill know they have a voice, and that they should use it by voting in local elections and taking advantage of opportunities to initiate a dialogue with the people who run our city. The last day to register to vote is Wednesday October 14 by 8pm at City Clerk’s office for the next local elections that are on Tuesday November 3, 2015. Follow this link to the City of Haverhill Registrar/Voters’ Page and you’ll find other links to answer most of your questions about that process. http://www.ci.haverhill.ma.us/government/board_of_registrars_of_voters_-_elections/index.php
Before you vote, make it a point to know the candidates for city council and the school committee (Mayor Fiorentini is running unopposed in this election.) The League of Women Voters of Greater Haverhill can help you with your quest for knowledge with the 2015 Candidates Night.
THOH headed back to our car after leaving the restaurant, and the thought returned: “The Rail Trail will be closed for up to a year.” With pocket camera in tow, we took advantage of the unrefined trail and walked its length before heading out to the Farmers’ Market.
(c) Alison Colby-Campbell
Haverhill City Hall http://www.ci.haverhill.ma.us/
League of Women Voters of Greater Haverhill http://www.lwv-gh.org/
Haverhill Police Dept Anonymous Tip Line 978-374-2411
MA State link to identify where in each town a resident votes. http://wheredoivotema.com/bal/MyElectionInfo.aspx