HAVERHILL — If you’ve driven by the Citizens Center on Welcome Street recently you’ve probably seen workers on lifts removing panels from the outside of the building.
One of the most heavily used city buildings is finally getting a new outer jacket after a seven-year wait.
Heat has been escaping out the walls and windows in the winter, while air-conditioned air escapes on summer days.
The Citizens Center at 10 Welcome St., is home to community programs such as senior activities, the Recreation Department and veterans services, is getting new, more energy efficient and leak-free outer walls.
Unlike other city buildings with brick exteriors, the outer jacket of the Citizens Center’s was made of masonry-type panels. City officials say these panels have been buckling and peeling away for years, causing damaging leaks to interior walls and ceilings and draining energy.
As the city’s financial outlook improves, it became time to replace the outside walls.
Councilor William Macek, chairman of the natural resources and public property committee, said the Citizens Center has had problems from almost the beginning.
“Even though we’re having to make a large investment, the energy costs will be reduced through the use of modern materials, saving the city money on an annual basis,” Macek said. “The building will have a better appearance, and there won’t be any more leaks.”
“We’re fortunate that the city has the ability to keep moving forward in these difficult economic times,” Macek added.
Vincent Ouellette, director of human services whose office is in the building, said the project cost is about $922,000. He said the city received a $200,000 federal energy efficiency grant to help pay a portion, while the city is borrowing and tapping its capital repairs fund for the rest.
Work began several months ago and the project is expected to be completed by the end of June, Ouellette said.