EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


April 2, 2013

Mayor's aide: Alley lights likely to come soon

Council continues pressure for safer downtown walkways

HAVERHILL — The mayor’s aide said the city is encountering fewer problems than expected in its effort to install lights in downtown alleys for the safety of visitors.

The process of obtaining permission from property owners to install the lights may not take as long as originally thought, said David Van Dam, Mayor James Fiorentini’s chief of staff.

“The hope is we can get it done sooner rather than later,” Van Dam said yesterday. “The mayor wants to get this project done.”

City councilors have been pushing the mayor to install the lights, so people who park at the edge of downtown can walk through alleys without fear of safety problems or criminals.

When the council meets tonight, it will hear a report on progress the city has made on the project. Some councilors have criticized the mayor for taking too long to get the job done, after they suggested the lights several months ago.

Last month, Van Dam said he was researching the project and found some delays might happen due to the city needing approval of building owners to erect the lights, which could involve a lengthy legal process.

But yesterday, he said officials have discovered the process is not likely to be a long one.

Van Dam said he plans to inform the council tonight on which alleys have been identified as public and private, whether any easements would be required, and what kind of lights would be best — hard-wired or solar.

“I’ve had discussions with our city electrician as to what kinds of lights would work and I’ve spoken to insurance experts who said there is a benefit to illuminating private alleyways,” he said.

Last month, councilors criticized the mayor for taking too long to respond to what they indicated was an eight-month-old request that lighting and possibly video cameras be installed in downtown alleys for the safety and convenience of residents and visitors.

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