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October 24, 2012

Mayor seeks grant funds for YMCA project

Council puts off action on fee waiver as 'Brownfields' grant researched

HAVERHILL — Mayor James Fiorentini is standing firm against waiving an estimated $60,000 to $70,000 in building fees for the YMCA’s Wadleigh House renovation.

Instead of waiving the fees, he’s trying to find the organization some grant money to offset the city charges.

City Council was scheduled to consider a request last night from the YMCA to waive the fees, but postponed the matter for a week at the mayor’s request.

David Van Dam, the mayor’s aide, said Fiorentini has requested federal “Brownfields” money from the Merimack Valley Planning Council for the YMCA. The money is made available to communities to clean polluted land. Van Dam did not know how much grant money might be available or what kind of contaminants might be present on the Wadleigh House property.

The project, across the street from City Hall, is a 22-unit housing development for low-income men and women.

Van Dam said the city expected to hear back from the regional planning commission as soon as today. Fiorentini was not at last night’s meeting and he did not return a phone message.

Councilor Willian Ryan said the city is also researching how building fees are assessed to nonprofits in other communities. He said the council expects that information before voting next week.

The YMCA demolished the former 18-unit home at 170 Main St. this past summer and plans to erect the new building in its place. The new structure, which is expected to be ready for tenants next summer, is designed to be in character with the Main Street Historic District.

Last week, YMCA Director Tracy Fuller told councilors the $4.1 million project has proved more costly than anticipated due to asbestos-related issues and other problems.

“Costs have gone over and we need the break to finish it,” she said in asking the council to waive the city fees, suggesting they amount to $26,000.

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