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June 19, 2014

Police to get maintenance garage, station's roof fixed

Council, mayor OK use of deceased resident's donation for both projects

HAVERHILL — A happy ending is in the works in the dispute between the mayor, police chief and City Council over the best use of a deceased resident’s large monetary donation to the city.

The trust of the late Elmo D’Alessandro, a former Haverhill resident and businessman who died in 2008, gave the city $858,000 in 2012.

According to Mayor James Fiorentini, there’s $711,000 remaining from the donation, which can only be used for law enforcement purposes. The money is being held subject to appropriation by the mayor and council.

Fiorentini originally wanted to use the money to replace the deteriorated police station roof.

But police Chief Alan DeNaro said the mayor had already committed to using the money to build a maintenance garage for police and fire department vehicles. The chief argued the garage would be a more appropriate use of the donation because it is supposed to be used for something the department would not normally be able to afford, such as the garage. Police have been asking for their own maintenance facility for at least a decade, DeNaro said.

Last night, Fiorentini told councilors he now wants to use the D’Alessandro money for both projects — $375,000 for the roof and $336,000 toward building the maintenance garage at the Primrose Street public works complex.

Fiorentini said he expects the roof replacement project to begin within a month, subject to the council approving the use of the D’Alessandro money at its Tuesday night meeting.

DeNaro recently told councilors the 15-year-old police station is infested with mold because the city delayed fixing the leaky roof for several years. He said the roof has leaked for so long that the building’s support beams have been compromised.

The maintenance garage is estimated to cost $750,000. The mayor said the city will borrow the remaining $414,000 to pay for it. He said the project has to be put out to bid, but that he expects construction to begin in the fall. The city will consider installing solar panels on the facility, which is also to include space for highway department vehicles, the mayor said.

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