Editor's note: This is the first in a series of pre-Nov. 8 election stories looking at the issues and candidates in each of Lawrence's six voting districts. The next installment will be on Wednesday, Oct. 19 on District B.
LAWRENCE — Ask residents of the Prospect Hill section of the city what they want most in their neighborhood and they are likely to answer: reopen the Engine 6 Fire House on Howard Street.
"If the fire house had been opened, that house would not have burned," said Ray Benedix, referring to a blaze in February of last year that destroyed a three-family home at 359 Howard St., just six houses away from the station, built in 1896 and closed the summer before due to budget cuts.
Benedix has lived on Prospect Hill since 1935.
"We hear the (fire) trucks coming up East Haverhill Street and cross our fingers ...," said Harold Magoon, director of the Lawrence/Methuen Community Coalition, a neighborhood organization on East Haverhill Street focused on the prevention of child abuse, substance abuse and domestic violence through the establishment of neighborhood associations and community networks.
Prospect Hill is tucked into the northeast corner of the city near the Methuen line bordered by Routes 110 and 495. It is rich in history containing the mansions of former mill owners and was where many of the city's politicians lived. The city's first reservoir was built there to fight fires in the mills.
Its residents are currently represented by District A City Councilor Sandy E. Almonte and longtime District A School Committee member James S. Vittorioso.
Residents say they remember when Prospect Hill was the best place to live in the city, but now say they find used syringes on their lawns, witness drug deals from their home's windows, the streets are strewn with garbage, and many homes are foreclosed and dilapidated.