EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


January 30, 2013

Haverhill Councilor: UMass-Lowell search too secretive

Calls for public input


“If this idea has come this far, it’s real and is going to happen,” Sullivan said.

The mayor did not return a phone message left for him after last night’s meeting.

Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien said she isn’t bothered by the dearth of information.

“I called Dempsey’s office and they told me it’s under control,” Daly O’Brien said. “But that they can’t say anything until the school picks the suitor and they have something concrete, as far as where and who. I don’t think it’s subterfuge. It’s just the difference between academia and government. It’s just not as public as we would like.”

State Rep. Brian Dempsey, D-Haverhill, announced the UMass-Lowell plan with Meehan and is playing a leading role in the project.

In an interview earlier this week, Fiorentini indicated he is taking a hands-off approach to the college’s search for a property.

“I have instructed my department heads that this is a procurement process and that we are not to get involved in expressing a preference for one site over another,” the mayor said, stressing he’s confident the project will come to fruition. “We believe this will be a tremendous boon to our city and to our downtown.”

In late December, Meehan said the university is looking for 10,000 square feet of office space for six to eight “smart classrooms” and administrative offices for the satellite spot, which will focus on continuing education.

The initial bidding documents required the leased space to be downtown, within walking distance of Haverhill’s train and bus stations.

The map was changed, however, after a team from the university did a site walk of the area and felt that there were more potential locations beyond what was covered by the first map.

The original map showed the downtown area from Main Street to the train station, and bordered by Walnut Street/Bailey Boulevard to the north and the Merrimack River to the south.

The new, larger map has the same east-west coordinates and is still bordered by the Merrimack River to the south, but it nearly doubled in size by extending the boundary farther to the north, all the way to Route 97/Winter Street.

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