EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

August 26, 2008

Captain Red to have downtown boat docks, his own day in Haverhill

HAVERHILL — For more than a quarter-century, William J. Slavit served as Haverhill's harbormaster. In that role, he directed numerous rescues on the Merrimack River.

For many years, "Captain Red" also ran pleasure boat trips along the river. He is famous for often entertaining passengers with nautical tales about pirates who raided boats on the river centuries ago and his own experiences with water rescues as a helicopter pilot for the Coast Guard.

Even as the years have slowed down Slavit, 86, he has stayed in the public eye by running for mayor twice against James Fiorentini. His former political opponent wants to make sure Captain Red gets an honor he is due.

Fiorentini is proposing to name new boat docks to be located downtown behind The Tap restaurant as the "Red Slavit Municipal Docks."

At tonight's City Council meeting at 7 p.m. in City Hall, the council is set to consider the request, as well as a proposal from Fiorentini to make Sept. 13 "Red Slavit Day."

If approved, the docks will be named at a riverside ceremony on that date, the mayor said.

"Captain Red is a legendary Haverhill figure who spent many years promoting Haverhill and the Merrimack River," Fiorentini said. "I am pleased to honor his years of service to our city with the dedication of these docks, which will in turn help the ongoing renaissance of downtown Haverhill."

The docks will be located by the new Merrimack River boardwalk section to be completed in 2009, the mayor said. The purpose of the docks is to enhance recreational and commercial boating opportunities on the downtown stretch of the river, just as Slavit always tried to do, Fiorentini said.

"Red Slavit and his family have done a great deal to expose people to the wonderful asset we have in the Merrimack River," Fiorentini said. "I'm pleased that these docks will serve as a lasting reminder to his legacy."

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