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Barrett, Sullivan Outline Compatible Visions for Haverhill Starting with New Broadway Fire Station

By Tim Coco | January 3, 2024

(Additional photograph below.)


Haverhill Mayor Melinda E. Barrett, sworn in Tuesday morning, gave construction of a new Broadway-area fire station a prominent place in her vision for the city.


Barrett raised the topic of the fire station—discussed for more than 30 years as a way of improving service to the outskirts of the city—as part of her pledge for a major capital program. She told a capacity crowd gathered in City Hall auditorium that keeping up with public buildings “has been a challenge for us historically as a city.”


“A clearly defined capital plan and maintenance program that all are aware of is a first step in correcting that. A capital improvements plan is not to be feared, rather it is a working document for maintenance, planning, funding and goal setting,” she explained.


The call for the new fire station, at Route 97 and Interstate 495, has been cited for years as the best means for reducing response times to Ayers and Rocks Villages. As late as a year ago, a 168-page study by the Washington-based Center for Public Safety Management recommended the city consider “constructing a new facility at Broadway and I-495 to include the Ayers Village call-unit and crew.”


Discussion of the station became so much a theme for the new mayor that incoming City Council President Thomas J. Sullivan backed it from the podium during his acceptance speech and Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll made clear—to cheers from the audience—that she got the memo.


“We want to be here to support what Haverhill is doing every single day—whether that’s a new fire station opportunity. A new fire station, investing in public safety, ways we can work together to improve our schools and the education that we need, ensuring that the fresh ideas, the renewed energy, the excitement for what’s ahead here in Haverhill—know that you have a strong partner in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” she said.


Sullivan, who asked Sen. Edward J. Markey to “not forget about the new fire station,” echoed the same commitment for the city’s major goals. “Together, we are tasked with solving formidable challenges before us, including the need for a new fire station, a new Whittier Technical High School and a new John Greenleaf Whittier School. And there will be more school projects and other capital projects coming before us after these. Working together and with the help of our state and federal elected officials, we will secure the funding needed to make these projects a reality,” he said.


Barrett, whose family’s retail store spent 50 years up against the west end of the “debacle of urban renewal,” renewed her commitment to developer Salvatore N. Lupoli’s $160 million redevelopment of five acres of downtown property. She pointed to the end game of the redevelopment when paired with Historic New England’s ideas to make downtown a tourist and cultural destination.


“The realization of an 18-hour economy where more entrepreneurs, citizens and visitors will want to invest and enjoy our downtown is nearing,” she said.


Markey couldn’t help, but comment on the idea. “New York is known as the city that never sleeps. Here, in Haverhill, the mayor just wants to make it an 18-hour city. So, you get to sleep six hours a night,” he quipped.


Barrett also pledged improved communication with residents by making the city’s website “easier to navigate” and better highlighting timely information. She would also make the city’s 3-1-1 information catch patterns that require intervention. She promised also to revisit zoning concerns, “to make sure our future growth allows for green spaces for passive and active recreation” and “right size our density limits and allow for consideration of infrastructure demands and improvements.”


Sullivan’s goals were largely in sync with Barrett’s, but also called for “mental health treatment, drug addiction treatment and prevention services;” homelessness prevention program; revitalization of the River Street area; and reopening Winnekenni Castle.



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