EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

July 9, 2014

Letter: Haverhill needs long-range plan to leverage Harbor Place

To the editor:

This week, Merrimack Street Ventures, LLC, a partnership of the Greater Haverhill Foundation and The Planning Office for Urban Affairs, held a groundbreaking ceremony for Harbor Place, a redevelopment of the long-vacant Woolworth building and adjacent buildings. A University of Massachusetts Lowell satellite campus will be the prime tenant of Harbor Place. The college plans to occupy the second and third floors of the new, glass-enclosed building.

Thanks to the Greater Haverhill Foundation, most notably Ron Trombly and Sally Cerasuolo-O’Rourke, for taking the risk and for having the vision and a plan, several years ago to purchase the Woolworth building and for leading the redevelopment effort. On the public side, the key driver was Rep. Brian Dempsey, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, who secured millions of dollars in state funding to build a boardwalk and help with the infrastructure for the project.

The mayor and City Council have helped with re-zoning, tax incentives and parking and related infrastructure improvements, including raising the flood wall.

But it is time for this city to do more to ensure the success of this crown jewel and to leverage it to take Haverhill to the next level.

The next logical step is to collectively develop a comprehensive, long-range policy plan for Haverhill, starting with our Vision for Future Haverhill. It should address how to leverage Harbor Place to bolster economic development and job creation and to improve all of the interrelating elements, such as public infrastructure, public safety, schools and residential housing.

The comprehensive plan must integrate how we intend to help make Haverhill a better place to live, learn, work and play in the next 10 to 20 years. Pieces of that vision have already emerged in various settings, but the whole picture needs to be pulled together into a statement that gives more guidance to all of our institutions and stakeholders. It will set the table for specific projects and programs to implement its goals.

John Michitson

President, Haverhill City Council

Haverhill

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