EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


February 4, 2013

Mayor picks key date for speech

State of City address set for Feb. 26

HAVERHILL — This could be the most interesting State of the City speech in some time.

Mayor James Fiorentini said he will deliver the annual update on the city during City Council’s Feb. 26 meeting at City Hall.

UMass-Lowell officials have said they will identify the property for the satellite campus in downtown Haverhill on Feb. 25.

The university announced last week that two property owners are in the running to host the mini-campus, but school officials have declined to identify the bidders or the properties under consideration.

At a recent City Council meeting, one councilor said the selection process has been too secretive and lacks local input. Other councilors said they trust the process and are confident it will be successful.

Councilor Thomas Sullivan said he believes the mayor intends to reveal more details about the college’s search for a downtown property at the State of the City speech.

If that’s the plan, Fiorentini isn’t saying.

“It is a coincidence,” the mayor said of the timing. “The speech will not focus around UMass-Lowell. I have not decided yet if it will be a portion of the speech or not.”

Fiorentini — who won election to a modern Haverhill record fifth two-year term last year — said his speech will be titled “A Vision for Tomorrow.” The mayor said his message will focus on city finances, economic development and efforts to attract young people to Haverhill.

“There is a spirit of optimism about the city’s future,” Fiorentini said. “Haverhill’s population is going up and that’s a good thing. Young people are staying here and moving back.”

A decade ago, the mayor said Haverhill High graduates couldn’t wait to leave the city.

“Young people are moving here because it’s affordable and for the downtown scene,” he said. “But to keep them here, we need to focus on quality of life issues like public education and affordability. Our population is growing, but the challenge is can we sustain it.”

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