hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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June 5, 2014

It's high time lights come to dark downtown alleys

They say the wheels of government sometimes move slowly.

In this case, it was like the wheels were stuck in mud.

But finally they’re turning, and in the right direction.

And the right people will benefit — those who have invested their lives in the downtown and those looking to have a safe visit there.

About two years after it was proposed, lights are finally coming to dark alleys downtown. (See story, Page 1.)

The first lights were installed recently in an alley next to the Barking Dog Ale House restaurant and lounge. They will go a long way toward the safety of people using that alley between Washington an Wingate streets, the downtown’s popular “restaurant row’’ which draws many people, especially on weekends.

Making it safe for downtown visitors to walk through the area is a no-brainer. It makes them more comfortable when they leave their cars in the new parking garage or lots on the outskirts of downtown and walk to the heart of the business district at night.

But no-brainer or not, city officials said the process of working out the lighting took more time than anyone wanted. Legal issues such as easements got in the way and caused the city to negotiate with some property owners.

Even now, not all owners of properties next to the alleys are in agreement about the plan.

Still, the city does expect to light up four more alleys this summer and possibly more later.

“I’m a little disappointed it took almost three years to light one alley, but it’s a step in the right direction,” City Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien told reporter Shawn Regan. “I don’t understand why some of the other owners don’t have more community spirit and don’t seem to be willing to help us out.”

We agree.

It makes good business sense to provide customer safety.

We urge city officials and merchants to get together and speed up the process.

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