hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

December 6, 2012

City Hall gets a makeover

Smelly rugs a thing of the past

By Shawn Regan

---- — HAVERHILL — City Hall’s stinky rugs are almost a thing of the past.

Mayor James Fiorentini said work has begun painting the basement and installing carpeting in the last few common areas of the building that have yet to receive new shag. When it’s completed, the city will have painted walls and ceilings and re-carpeted all common areas in the spacious, multi-story building for about $35,000, he said. A local interior designer, Caryl Hoffman from Hastings and Hoffman Interiors, donated her time to advise the city on the renovations, including identifying the colors and design of the improvements, the mayor said. Work release crews from the Correctional Alternative Center in Lawrence, known as “the farm,” did the painting for free, he said.

”I have had positive feedback from residents that have visited City Hall regarding the interior improvements that we have made on a shoestring budget,” the mayor said. “Phase three is next, and will address some of the necessary exterior needs.”

David Van Dam, the mayor’s aide, said workers will repair portions of the building’s roof, concrete entrance ways and parking areas in the spring. Van Dam said there’s also about $35,000 available for the exterior work.

In April of last year, several councilors called the appearance of City Hall embarrassing and criticized Fiorentini for allowing the historic building and its decades-old rugs to fall into such disrepair. They urged him to find a way to replace the rugs and spruce up the building as soon as possible. At the time, the mayor agreed the appearance of the building was awful, but said the city could not afford the approximately $100,000 he said it would cost to re-carpet and paint the inside of the large building. He eventually decided to pursue a low-cost solution by addressing the problem in phases over time and with free, volunteer laborers whenever possible.

Additonally, Van Dam said the city has hired a company to clean City Hall at night, including shampooing rugs and mopping floors, from 5 to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The company, at a cost of about $2,000 per month, will supplement the building’s single daytime custodian, Van Dam said. A second city custodian who had been working in the building has been transferred to the police station, Van Dam said.