Mayor Jim Fiorentini's State of the City Address 2023

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Mayor Jim Fiorentini was greeted with a standing ovation before beginning his final State of the City Address during his historic 10th term as Mayor of Haverhill. Crediting city employees and members of the community for the success of bringing the city from the brink of bankruptcy to financial stability, Mayor Fiorentini introduced his remarks with a video showing dramatic transformations of abandoned buildings and land into beautiful, productive housing developments and other structures throughout downtown.

Watch the televised speech here:

See the Haverhill transformation video here:

Mayor Fiorentini's
Complete 2023 State of the City Address
Written Address

Focusing on the future, the Mayor provided a roadmap of the 20-year long recovery that included cutting expenses by consolidating departments and joining the state’s healthcare plan, to increasing revenue by introducing new fees like parking and meals tax.

He then explained the challenges of expanding the corporate tax base by rezoning and actively seeking companies to relocate in our industrial parks. Today the city is home to major companies including Monogram Foods, Edwards Technology, and an Amazon distribution center – with more in the queue.

Mayor Fiorentini continued by listing key ways new revenues and grants have been used:

  • Reopened the Bradford fire station
  • Kept the Library open and extended hours
  • Expanded municipal services
  • Restored and increased the police staffing to its highest level ever
  • Reduced crime – down 65% over his tenure (car thefts down 90%)
  • Built a new Hunking School
  • Spent $110 million to renovate Haverhill High School; repair and improve all schools
  • Installed miles of new sidewalks
  • Paved miles of roads
  • Planted 3,000+ trees
  • Built and renovated parks & playgrounds
  • Repaired ballfields & walking paths
  • Built a new rail trail along the Merrimack River that will eventually extend to Georgetown
  • Built a downtown boardwalk along the Merrimack River
  • Improved downtown boat dock, recruited kayaking company, brought back riverboat cruises
  • Expanded Public Health Department and services

The Mayor also acknowledged challenges such as the budget, which he said never go away for any city. He added, however, that Haverhill is now in a strong financial position with the highest bond rating in our history, the Hale debt paid and adequate reserves to withstand upcoming challenges.

Beyond finances, Mayor Fiorentini focused on social challenges such as the need to include people of all nationalities into the community, the workforce, boards, committees and city government. He identified health department and police department programs that have been implemented to combat mental health and opiate addition - particularly among young people. Psychologists and social workers are now accompanying officers to calls - where there are mental health issues or overdoses - in a model acknowledged by the state for its success.

He focused on the housing crisis – which the Mayor said is a state-wide problem where 200,000 fewer housing units are being produced every year. Saying Haverhill is losing population because people cannot find a place to live or are priced out of the city, Mayor Fiorentini called the situation a “moral crisis” that requires people to re-evaluate their approach to how to treat others.

Before his closing comments, Mayor Fiorentini focused on the Village Center concept recommended in the city’s new master plan – Vision 2035. Calling them “a trip back to the future,” he recalled a time when people lived within walking or biking distance of all fundamental needs from corner markets to playgrounds. The walkable city approach to new housing development is not new, he said, and will not work everywhere, but he emphasized that it needs to be part of Haverhill’s future.

In addition, the Mayor said the city needs to re-evaluate its zoning again to find ways that not only continue to preserve farms, open space and our water supply, but provide places to build housing to support growth.

Saying “The Best is Yet to Come”, Mayor Fiorentini displayed renderings of projects that have been approved and others under consideration to continue the city’s renaissance. These included:

  • Merrimack Place by the Lupoli Companies – a huge development, with housing, new restaurant incubator space, a new parking garage and public areas outdoors for dining, vendors and an ice rink in the winter.
  • Oxford Square at Joseph’s Pasta in Ward Hill – a new village center designed to be a miniature version of Tuscan Village in Salem, NH.
  • A new business park near Rte. 495 that will produce hundreds of jobs and hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax revenues, if approved.
  • The Beck – a new development on the waterfront that includes traffic improvements in the neighborhood and a free-to-the-public waterfront park at no cost to taxpayers.
  • A new, hi-tech Consentino School with sufficient space to handle population growth – if it occurs. “Because we planned for this and saved for this, this new school will happen regardless of how the June 6 vote turns out,” Mayor Fiorentini said.

In closing, the Mayor declared that “hope is back” in Haverhill, “our greatest days lie ahead” and “the future of our city is bright, and the state of our city is strong.”