By Shawn Regan
---- — HAVERHILL — Long overdue repairs to the Citizens Center’s dilapidated “outer shell” are expected to begin in the spring, Mayor James Fiorentini said.
Fiorentini said he has approval from the City Council to borrow $637,000 and that the federal government has committed another $237,000 for the work, which includes new siding, windows and doors. The building’s “exterior envelope” has been in poor condition for almost two decades, he said.
“The heat goes right out the walls,” Fiorentini said.
The Citizen Center on Welcome Street houses city departments that provide services and run activities for senior citizens, veterans and young people. It is used primarily for Council on Aging activities during the day and is rented to public and private groups at night and on weekends, Human Services Director Vincent Ouellette said.
The building consists of offices, two conference rooms, a kitchen and cafeteria, ceramics room, billiards room, exercise room, dark room, woodworking shop and a computer lab. It is one of the few public buildings with an electricity generator and is used as a shelter during severe storms and heat waves.
The mayor is scheduled to brief the council tonight on the hiring of an architect and project manager the city has hired to oversee the work.
He said Allen Lieb Architects of Danvers will design the project and that local architect Angelo Petrozelli has been hired as project manager at a rate of $45 per hour.
The mayor said the city is trying to get the federal money as soon as possible due to the federal government’s financial problems and “the fiscal cliff” situation.
“We read the papers like everyone else,” Fiorentini said. “We have approval for the money but we don’t have it yet, so we’re a little concerned about the fiscal cliff situation. We’re going to try to get this started as soon as we can.”
Previous estimates show that renovating the Citizens Center could cost more than $2 million, but the mayor said only the most pressing exterior problems will be addressed in the upcoming work.
“We have other issues with the building such as leaking roofs,” Fiorentini said. “We’re going to take care of the walls first and then see about addressing some of the other problems later.”