By Shawn Regan
---- — HAVERHILL — Seven prominent downtown alleys on Washington and Wingate streets will be illuminated at night starting next month, the mayor’s chief of staff David Van Dam said.
The city has been negotiating with building owners for several months to reach agreements on installing lights in downtown’s heaviest-used alleys that link major streets and lead to and from parking areas.
City Council has been pushing the project to increase safety and for the convenience of people who live downtown and visit restaurants and other businesses in the area.
Councilors, led by Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien, have said the alleys should be lit, especially since the city enacted paid parking on downtown’s primary streets last summer and began encouraging people to park further from the city center where parking is free. Councilors have been asking Mayor James Fiorentini to get the lights installed for almost a year.
Van Dam said a consultant will inspect the alleys next week to determine exactly where the lights should be placed and how powerful they should be. He said the city will buy and install the lights and the building owners will pay for the electricity and maintenance.
“Depending on how it goes and if it’s successful, we could expand to do more alleys in the future,” Van Dam said.
According to a map provided by the city, the alleys to be illuminated are at or near 57, 67, 77, 81 and 189 Washington St. and 45 and 52 Wingate St. The alley at 53 Wingate St. already has lights, but Van Dan said they will be replaced with the new set-up the city is installing in other alleys.
“These paved alleys are shortcuts to Washington and Wingate Street, but they are not lit,” Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien said in a prior interview. “There are people who want to use the alleys to get to the restaurants and lofts, but they aren’t comfortable walking through dark alleys at night.”
The mayor said he put money in his new budget proposal currently under review by the council to pay for the new lights. He has also raised the possibility that the new lighting infrastructure could be used to accommodate security video cameras in the future.