HAVERHILL — The infamous City Hall rugs will be back in the spotlight tonight.
A City Council committee is meeting at City Hall at 7 p.m. to discuss ideas for replacing the dirty, lumpy carpets. Mayor James Fiorentini has said it could cost up to $100,000 to replace the shag, and that the city cannot afford it.
Fiorentini said the $100,000 quote is from an actual estimate for purchasing and installing new carpets throughout the large building. However, he said he believes the job could be done for closer to $70,000.
The mayor said the $100,000 estimate is from a contractor brought in to the inspect the building by Maintenance Director Jeff Dill.
Councilor David Hall, who is leading the push to replace the wall-to-wall carpeting, said he has invited several contractors to tonight's meeting to tell his colleagues that the carpets can be replaced for much less than Dill's or the mayor's estimates.
Hall has said the rugs smell bad and are dangerous, due to rips and frays, and that he and other visitors to the building have tripped over them.
The rug issue, which some have dubbed "Carpetgate," took an unusual twist last week when the animal advocacy group PETA offered to contribute money toward new City Hall carpets in exchange for including a provocative pro-vegan advertisement on them. The ad features a blond woman wearing a bikini made of lettuce, with the message: "Tread Lightly: Go Vegan."
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal, or PETA, emailed a letter with the offer to Hall two weeks ago. But Hall said he has not been contacted by the group since he received the email.
Fiorentini, who agrees the rugs need to be replaced, said addressing the floors of City Hall will be a priority in a new capital needs budget he intends to pitch to the council soon. Possible options include new carpeting, but also tile and other kinds of floor covering, the mayor said.
The mayor said the attention caused by the rugs has resulted in bad publicity for Haverhill.
Tonight's public meeting is in Room 204 of City Hall.
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