EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 5, 2013

City Hall on wheels

Mobile police center brings city services to neighborhoods

By Shawn Regan
sregan@eagletribune.com

---- — HAVERHILL — Mayor James Fiorentini is bringing “City Hall” to the inner city’s Mount Washington neighborhood today, where he said he will match residents with social service groups that help people find jobs, housing and heating assistance.

Fiorentini said Haverhill’s “Mobile City Hall” — a large, camper-style vehicle that doubles as the Police Department’s mobile command unit — will be parked at Fantini’s Bakery, 375 Washington Street, from 4 to 6 p.m.

City officials and local social service agencies will be on hand to guide residents on issues such as avoiding foreclosure or filing for unemployment benefits, as well as take complaints and tips about neighborhood and quality of life issues.

“I want to know about abandoned properties, storm drains that need to be cleaned and streets that need to be swept,” the mayor said.

Representatives from Community Action will be there to help people with heating and housing assistance. Another agency will have information on food and day-care programs. Workers from the Merrimack Valley Workforce Investment Board will have information on jobs and job training, the mayor said.

Residents will also be able to pay water and sewer bills at the rolling City Hall, Fiorentini said.

David Van dam, the mayor’s aide, said city officials will take complaints about snow removal and potholes on their streets, as well as provide information about grants for home repairs.

“It’s an opportunity for residents to have face-time with the mayor,” Van Dam said. “He will be taking compliments and complaints.”

The rolling governmental resource made its debut in February 2011. About 20 people showed that year. One woman complained about litter in her neighborhood, and the mayor promised to dispatch a work crew to clean the area. Others sought advice for staving off foreclosure and on home-repair programs and grants.

Van Dam said workers from the city’s Public Works Department will be with the mayor to take reports about road and neighborhood issues.

“It’s more convenient for some people than going to City Hall,” Van Dam said when asked why someone would go there to pay a bill.

The mayor said he got the idea from the city of Boston’s mobile City Hall that Fiorentini said he first witnessed as a Tufts University student.

“I encourage residents to stop by to discuss any concerns or suggestions they want to share,” Fiorentini said. “I want to bring City Hall to the neighborhoods to make it easier for residents to receive needed services.”