EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Haverhill

February 28, 2013

Downtown alleys to get lights, mayor's aide says

Councilors exert pressure to bring safety to walkers

HAVERHILL — People using dark alleys to walk to downtown businesses will get lights to show them the way.

David Van Dam, aide to Mayor James Fiorentini, told city councilors this week that he will get back to them in three weeks with a plan and timetable for installing lights in the alleyways.

Van Dam’s comments came after councilors criticized the mayor’s office for failing to respond to their eight-month-old request that lighting and possibly video cameras be installed in the alleys for the safety and convenience of residents and visitors.

The idea is to make the much-traveled shortcuts leading from the edge of the business district to busy parts of downtown more appealing for pedestrians and less so for criminals.

“These paved alleys are shortcuts to Washington and Wingate Street, but they are not lit,” Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien said. “There are people who want to use the alleys to get to the restaurants and lofts, but they aren’t comfortable walking through dark alleys at night.”

Daly O’Brien first proposed the idea back in May, suggesting the city try to partner with property owners to install solar or motion-activated lights on privately-owned buildings. At the time, other councilors said the city should also consider installing video cameras in the alleys for the safety of pedestrians.

But since then, the mayor has yet to give the council an official response on whether he is going to make it happen.

“Between the parking fees and the meals tax, we should have enough money to do something,” Daly O’Brien said at Tuesday’s council meeting. “In eight months, we’ve done nothing and the mayor has not told us what he’s going to do or not do. It shouldn’t be that complicated. The mayor has had more than enough time on this.”

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