Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini is set to be honored in November by MassINC’s Gateway Cities Innovation Institute.
Fiorentini will be presented with the Mayor Bill Carpenter Award for excellence in Gateway Cities Leadership. Haverhill’s mayor, who is retiring this year after serving 20 years, is being recognized for stabilizing city finances, establishing a model for how communities could support transit-oriented development around commuter rail, cleaning contaminated “brownfield” properties and charting a course for renewing an industrial downtown.
“Through Mayor Fiorentini’s efforts, Haverhill demonstrates how transit-oriented development can contribute to a vibrant live-work-play downtown outside of metro Boston,” said André Leroux, director of MassINC’s Gateway Hubs Project. “Notable achievements include passing a smart growth zoning district that could accommodate more than 1,000 new housing units—with 362 of them already constructed—as well as transforming acres of downtown parking into a walkable, mixed-use district.”
The award, inaugurated in 2019 to commemorate the legacy of the late Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter, recognizes an elected official who seeks out new ideas and works collaboratively to advance them, elevating the status of their city and furthering the collective interests of Gateway Cities throughout the Commonwealth. It will be presented Tuesday, Nov. 14, at Fitchburg State University, during the 11th Annual Gateway Cities Innovation Institute Awards & Summit.
The group notes Fiorentini was one of the 11 mayors to sign MassINC’s founding Gateway City Compact in 2007. Most recently, the mayor championed revitalization efforts through the arts, rezoned for infill housing and business development and reclaimed residents’ access to the Merrimack Riverfront.
MassINC CEO Joe Kriesberg said, “The mayor recently called the housing issue a ‘moral crisis that requires people to re-evaluate their approach to how to treat others.’ By talking explicitly about the need to include people of all nationalities, backgrounds and incomes into the community, the workforce and city government, he has supported a stronger and more inclusive city.”
Fiorentini said the award is “even more special” because Carpenter was a friend. He said, “I grew up here in Haverhill. All four of my grandparents had businesses downtown. When I became mayor in 2004, one of my first priorities was revitalizing downtown. I am proud of what we were able to accomplish as a city, and I am deeply proud and humbled to receive this award. I accept this award not for me, but for the great team here at city hall that made our downtown renaissance possible.”