Today Congresswoman Niki Tsongas joined Mayor James Fiorentini, State Representative Brian Dempsey and other local officials to discuss and tour the downtown floodwall, which has been flagged by the Army Corps of Engineers for non-compliance.
The Army Corps of Engineers sited the City of Haverhill because the downtown floodwall has not passed the last several inspections. The wall borders the Central Business District, home to dozens of companies and employees as well as numerous residential units. Federal law requires communities to certify floodwalls and flood control systems in order to be eligible for federal assistance if in fact a major floor occurs. This certification also impacts businesses and homes since a non-compliant certification subjects them to dramatic increases in insurance premiums.
Last year, Congresswoman Tsongas and representatives from her office joined with stakeholders, including Mayor Fiorentini, Rep. Dempsey, Economic Development Agency (EDA) regional coordinator Matthew Suchochoski and DPW Director Mike Stankovich to develop a plan to repair the floodwall. The Congresswoman's office strongly supported the city's application for a federal EDA award to repair the floodwall, which is currently in the competitive review process.
In 2012, State Representative Brian Dempsey also secured a $4 million MassWorks grant to support infrastructure improvements in the Merrimack Street corridor. The EDA grant would complement this funding.
Congresswoman Tsongas released the following statement:
"My office has worked closely with Mayor Fiorentini, Representative Dempsey and other local officials to examine the most effective and efficient way to solve this critical issue. This state and federal partnership will not only help secure the resources necessary to fund the repairs and bring the floodwall into compliance, but they will help revitalize the riverfront and continue transforming the downtown. Partnership and communication on the local, state and federal level will continue to move this vital project forward and help protect the long-term safety and prosperity of the downtown area."