hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

June 27, 2012

Letters to the editor

To the editor:

I read Sven Amirian's letter extolling Haverhill and I wondered if the heat of the summer was getting to his head. I am disgusted at how Haverhill's leaders talk about what a great city Haverhill is when it gets on a good day, a B-. Usually it averages about a C- or maybe D+. Here's why.

Downtown Haverhill has no viable foot traffic. Both Newburyport and even Amesbury's downtowns are cozier. The appalling lack of flowers and decorations downtown add to the degraded look of the area.

Merrimack Street has three cheap dollar stores, an employment agency and a social service agency. If anyone thinks this is stuff of destination cities, think again.

There are new signs that say "restaurant district" and "arts district." Haverhill does not have a single art gallery and maybe five decent restaurants downtown. Amesbury, half of Haverhill's size, has five great restaurants. Newburyport, half the size of Amesbury, has 25 great restaurants. Haverhill has set the bar exceedingly low for what a "destination" city is supposed to be. Haverhill holds the record for gourmet food on every street corner: pizza, roast beef and subs. What a joke.

The Woolworth Building, a dilapidated junk pile located at the entrance to the city, has a black banner that says "Haverhill Means Business." Is someone joking? Then it has a post card painted on the side of the building that says "Welcome to Haverhill." Haverhill, its people, and its leaders should be embarrassed. But when the bar is set so low, the population is so out of touch, and the leadership is so provincial and obstinate, there is no embarrassment.

High rise apartment buildings that block the river view when there should have been a boardwalk for one end of downtown all the way to the stadium by now. Ginty and Bailey Boulevard are barren. Trails that were never developed were left as "paths" behind the stadium, along Hannah Dustin Trail and the Meadowview area. Dogs are always off leash around Winnekenni Park making it unsafe to walk a dog with no enforcement of leash laws.

I have lived here for decades and seen the same names recycled on city council. Mayors get elected but little changes. Had there been a large scale "team" of people who got together 25 years ago with a common vision, things would not have come to this point. An unbelievable lack of vision for what this city could have been, an inability to understand that the river should have been better utilized for tourism, an obstinate political leadership more interested in getting credit for something than doing what's good for the city, and an inability to raise revenue are just some of the reasons Haverhill is stuck.

I had to say this after reading about how great Haverhill is by Amirian. I spend my days everywhere but Haverhill now that I am retired. There's simply nothing here. I can't imagine anyone trying to keep a business going here.

Joe Tucker