HAVERHILL — Calling it the most ambitious investment in schools, roads, sidewalks and infrastructure ever undertaken in the city, Mayor James Fiorentini recently outlined his five-year capital plan.
A major piece of his $112 million spending plan is to build new schools to replace Whittier Middle School and the Consentino School, assuming the city receives state funding for a major share of both projects.
The mayor said he plans to pay for the city's share without a Proposition 2 1/2 override or debt exclusion.
"Because various bonds are coming due over the next few years, by substituting this capital plan for those bonds, we can do this," he said. "We can fully fund this plan, build two new schools and fix our roads and infrastructure."
The mayor is also proposing to spend $17 million on roads and sidewalks over the next five years, saying that when he travels around the city, the No. 1 complaint he gets, “after high taxes” has to do with the poor condition of roads and sidewalks.
"Traditionally, we have always relied upon the state to pay for road paving through what is called Chapter 90 money," he said. "In my capital plan, I am proposing that starting this year, we supplement this with $1.5 million a year for five years to fix our roads and our sidewalks. It will be the biggest investment in our roads and sidewalks in our history."
"We can start this year by using $1.5 million of last year's record surplus to repair roads and sidewalks," he said. "Future year's appropriations will depend upon our ability to pay."
His plan would provide for 2.5 miles of new sidewalks, most of which the mayor said were built during the 1930s under Franklin D. Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration.
"They've all lasted for 70 years and they're all falling apart at the same time," he said about city sidewalks.
Under the mayor's plan, City Hall would undergo $4 million in renovations and improvements, including making all of City Hall wireless and replacing voting tabulators in the city clerk's office.
Other City Hall improvements range from exterior repointing and other masonry repairs to renovating the auditorium to security system upgrades and more.
Making every school more energy efficient is another goal, as is repairing leaky school roofs, capping the landfill, funding a fire vehicle replacement plan, upgrading Highway Department heavy equipment, investing more into the city's parks and playgrounds, replacing the animal shelter behind the DPW on Primrose Street and extending the Bradford Rail Trail into Groveland.