hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA


January 16, 2014

Downtown is in need of a transfusion


With the parking deck across the street, why can’t some entrepreneur turn that into a cultural entity, a theater or showpiece, a movie theater, maybe even a youth center? It has stood its ground for more years than anyone would care to count, decaying with age. Sell it. Rent it. Give it away. Donate it as a tax deduction. But polish that lump of coal into a diamond.

From one end to the next, we have a plethora of discount shops that aren’t exactly magnets. The Gazette building where I spent my days is now a foregone conclusion. The banks are doing their usual trade. People come and go, but don’t linger.

It used to be fun coming here, but no longer I’m afraid.

They may pop into a notions shop to see what’s being bargained off. But in the long run, it’s off to the malls and across the border where Haverhill takes its business.

We’re not Newburyport, I know that. But what happened to that boardwalk hugging the Merrimack? It was supposed to be the city’s savior.

I will not fault metered parking for our shortcomings. Other communities like Lowell have them and do not subside. That city’s folk festival each July draws hundreds of thousands of people. Ethnic groups man their booths. Music fills the air. It’s an open-air extravaganza.

Here are some thoughts, even though they may be a little far-fetched:

1. Get the Woolworth Building and the other vacant lots filled, even if they may require a tax allowance from the city.

2. An arts festival, bringing together the ethnic groups in an arena of conviviality. Dance. Music. Food. A cultural cornucopia.

3. A film festival, foreign or American — or both.

4. A taste of Haverhill where you can go restaurant hopping and sample the delights.

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