HAVERHILL — Repairs to the city's 92-year-old Water Street fire station are on the way, with Mayor James Fiorentini set to formally appropriate $500,000 in free cash to fund fixes at Tuesday night's City Council meeting — but that doesn't mean the conversation about infrastructure is over.
Also on Tuesday, a public participation session is taking place about recent Fire Department concerns, including the need for generators. Amesbury Road resident Joy Smith is among those expected to sound off to members of the council, according to the agenda.
At a Nov. 26 meeting with councilors, Fiorentini agreed to fix the Water Street station's roof and windows. While such repairs are a step in the right direction, Council President John Michitson says much more is needed and argues that the city is taking a "piecemeal approach" when more substantial upgrades are required. Haverhill's on-call roofing contractor, Greenwood Roofing, will do the work Fiorentini recently agreed to, with consultant Pieter Hartford estimating the cost at $150,000 or less. Bids will be accepted to fix the windows, which were installed in the 1980s.
Councilors, including Timothy Jordan, have long implored the mayor to complete a "structural analysis" at all of the city's stations, which include South Main and High Streets, 16th Avenue and in Rocks and Ayers Village.
The city has spent $3.7 million in capital improvements for the Fire Department in the recent years, according to Fiorentini. A new pumper, Engine 1, was purchased for for $542,000 in 2017, while an upgraded $635,000 radio system was installed a year later.
Timothy Carroll, president of Local 1011, the union that represents Haverhill's firefighters, has urged the city to consider a long-term solution such as building a new central station. Fiorentini estimates that would cost between $14-15 million.