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Mayor James J. Fiorentini
“City Could Gain up to $3.4 Million from Sale of land” * - February 1, 2005
City of Haverhill Massachusetts

Mayor James J. Fiorentini today announced that two companies had made proposals to purchase the city owned land in Bradford that once housed the Ornstein Heal property in Bradford. The highest bidder, if all the permits are granted, would pay the city $3.4 million for the property. In addition, the city could gain hundreds of thousands of dollars more in permit fees and in State incentives to build near commuter rail stations.

Haverhill. Massachusetts Mayor James J. Fiorentini
Haverhill, MA Mayor
James J. Fiorentini

Both of the proposals call for public access to the river and for a river front walk that would be available to the public. Preserving public access to the river was key component of the Mayor Fiorentini’s proposals to sell the land. At the time, some city councilors said that preserving public access would result in no one bidding on the property.

The property is located in Bradford along the Merrimack River along Railroad Avenue. It is across the street from the commuter rail station. Both of the companies making proposals want to put residential housing on the property and both would preserve, in some fashion, public access to the water front.

When the property went out to bid, Fiorentini insisted that the city state a preference that the public have river front access and stated at the time “the river does not belong just to the person who buys this land. The river belongs to all of us, and it is critical that we maintain public access to it.”

Today the Mayor called the two proposals “a victory for the city and victory for those of us who believe that you can protect the public’s interest in river front access.”

“We took a gamble” said Fiorentini, “and the public is winning that gamble. Asking developers to dedicate some portion of their land to the public works.”

Fiorentini said that public hearings would be held to evaluate the proposals. The hearings will be held in late November.

Fiorentini said that these proposals show the need for a waterfront overlay ordinance. “The proposals show that you can develop property and still preserve public access to the waterfront,” said Fiorentini. Now, we need to incorporate the principles from this piece of land into our zoning ordinances. Developers of property along the river should be encouraged to preserve public access to the river. The principle is the same regardless of who owns the land. The river does not belong to those few able to afford land along the river. It belongs to all of us.”

*Source: City of Haverhill, Massachusetts Web Site: www.ci.haverhill.ma.us 2-16-05

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