Inaugural Address Third Term
Thank you and recognitions
Thank you for coming here today. Let me take a moment to recognize and thank a few people in particular.
To our elected officials who took the time in their busy schedule to come.
There are a number of former Mayors who are here, and I want to thank them for their service to the city.
I would like to introduce my family- the first lady of the city, my wife Martha Fiorentini, my mother Lucy Fiorentini, my sister Anne Savinelli, and my many aunts, uncles and cousins, and nieces, thank you.
To our newly elected city council and school committee, I look forward to working with you.
And most importantly, to the people of Haverhill, thank you for allowing me to be here today. I can't promise you miracles over the next two years, but I do promise you this: I will always remember that this is your government, not our government, and we work for you, not the other way around.
Haverhill Four decades ago
Four decades ago, I was there, in the band, playing in this building, which was then Haverhill High School.
The education I received here in this building opened doors for me, and allowed me to go onto Tufts university and then to law school.
I pledge to you today that I will work as hard as I can to so that our children and grandchildren have the same great opportunities I received in this building four decades ago.
As we stand here today, we face a very different city than the city I saw in the 1960's.
Then, I saw a city where shoe shops and retail stores were leaving, and where our population was leaving with them. As the shoe shops left, some people lost their jobs, and the others lost their hope.
We face a very different city today. Today, instead of people leaving in droves, they are coming back- something we should celebrate.
Instead of stores leaving, today we see a city where large retail stores are moving in. Instead of our shoe shops being abandoned, today they see new life as people are moving into them.
As we stand here this morning, we see a very different city than I saw four decades ago, and a different city than the one I addressed four years ago. Today, we have:
Change brings a new set of challenges
Today we have a changed city, but every change brings with it an entirely new set of challenges.
Today, we are challenged to bring in new jobs at a time when our State economy teeters on the brink of recession.
To do this, we need to open new industrial parks to business and we need to expand the Hilldale Avenue industrial park.
There are so many challenges to meet. I'd like to speak of one of them today.
How We preserved the shoe shop era
Four years ago, I spoke to you of one the challenge of turning brownfields into greenfields and taking old shoe factory buildings and turning them into vibrant centers of commerce.
The odds were against us. They said it couldn't be done. They said that the buildings were polluted, there was no parking, and those buildings, many of which had been vacant for half a century, could never be used again. We worked together and today, the old Hamel Leather building is in the process of becoming the Forest City development, a $70 million development, the largest investment in the history of our city.
Preserving the shoe shop era was important, but the shoe shop era was not the only important era in our city and it is not the only era we should preserve.
Before Haverhill was a shoe city, Haverhill was a ship building city.
By the late 1700's three shipyards were working full time in Haverhill, building tall sailing ships to go out to the Atlantic. In 100 years, 252 tall sailing ships were built in Haverhill. For two hundred years, our shipyards sent ships and molasses and sturgeon to Europe and brought in goods from Europe.
Over the decades, new bridges downriver blocked our tall ships from sailing to the Atlantic. The last tall ship sailed from Haverhill in 1909-and a little over 200 years after our ship building tradition started, it was over.
Then for the next 100 years, walls were built and houses faced away from the river, and we turned our back to the Merrimack.
In the 1970's, this began to change. We began to clean up our river, polluters moved or cleaned up their act. Today, we are spending millions of dollars to separate storm water from waste water, and soon, the Merrimack River will be clean enough to swim in for the first time in a century.
Today, instead of turning our backs along the river, we are turning towards it. Today it's clear: the river is back.
But like every other change, this change brings with it its own set of challenges.
As we look up and down the Merrimack today, we see vast stretches of vacant land. Someday, these tracts of land will be developed. Now is time to make certain it is done right.
Today's challenge is clear: we need to revise our zoning laws so that future generations will always be able to seeing and walking along and boating along the Merrimack. We need to provide incentives for private developers to allow public views, public boating, public walkways and public trails along the river. Sometimes we will need to go further, and block development which is not in the public interest, or acquire land for parks and trails when the private industry can not.
This month, I will announce a Waterfront Development Task force, to develop those new waterfront zoning laws.
Later, I'll ask the city council to work with me to develop a Waterfront Commission, with powers to control, acquire and develop land, parks and trails along the river, using eminent domain powers if necessary, so that future generations will always be able to enjoy the river.
The details are complicated and will require study and public hearings, but the overall concept is quite simple: the river belongs to all of us, not just to those private interests with the money to develop along the river.
Our economic crisis
Make no mistake about it, preserving public access to the river will be difficult. It is much more difficult today because of the financial crisis facing every city in the State today.
Today, we live in the shadow of a recession, with growth slowed to a trickle. Today, every city in the State sees its fixed costs rising faster than its revenues.
On top of the challenges facing every city in the commonwealth, we have our own unique set of challenges caused by the collapse of our regional hospital, the Hale Hospital.
To meet these challenges, we must constantly reinvent government.
This year, we'll reorganize our public works department, and then we will introduce managed competition: we will ask private industry and government to compete for some public jobs. Our goal is a government so efficient that we can beat the bid of any private industry that wants to do city work and pays fair wages and benefits.
Managed competition worked in Charlotte North Carolina, Phoenix Arizona, Indianapolis, San Diego and in Springfield, Massachusetts. It can work here today.
Call to work together
But managed competition is only part of the answer. Solving our financial problems will require that all of us work together in a common sense of shared sacrifice to solve our common problems.
Today, I invite the city council, the school committee and our municipal unions to work with us to solve the greatest financial problem we face, controlling out of control health care costs.
That municipal partnership has to include our State and Federal officials. Part of the reasons we overcame the odds of four years ago, is the assistance we received from our State and Federal officials, we thank them for their help. That spirit of working together can bring us through the next crisis as well.
But ultimately, this is not a government of Mayors and elected officials, this is your government.
With your help, we overcame the great odds we faced four short years ago and today, Haverhill is a better and different place than it was just four years ago. Today more people are working, our children are getting a better education, we have more places to shop, and the Haverhill renaissance is alive and well.
With your help, we can overcome the odds that we face today. Now is our time, and now is your time. I can not promise you miracles, but I can promise you this_ We are going to work as hard as we can over the next two years to make this city the great city we know it can be.
Join with us, work with us, lend us your hand, your ideas, your energy and your input. This is a great city, and working together, we can make it better still.
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City of Haverhill, Massachusetts
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