A recent decision by city councilors to ban roadside fundraising was vetoed Wednesday by Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini.
Fiorentini said the change to city ordinances would prohibit firefighters from conducting the annual Labor Day weekend boot drive for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. He is suggesting councilors try again to ban solicitations on public ways, but make exceptions for Labor Day weekend and the Muscular Dystrophy boot drive.
“While I recognize that some people have complained over the years about people soliciting in the streets,” the mayor said, “I feel that the benefits of the boot drive out weigh the inconvenience. A one weekend a year exception for a Labor Day solicitation in front of the Water Street fire station would allow the boot drive to continue and still meet the concerns mentioned by the City Council.”
Last week, Councilor Michael S. McGonagle, chairman of the Public Safety Committee, explained the rationale for curbing street-side fundraising.
“It’s a safety issue. We had several near misses last year and a couple of accidents,” McGonagle said.
Fiorentini acknowledged both veterans groups and firefighters solicit donations at street corners. “The firefighter boot drive is part of a national effort to raise money for Muscular Dystrophy. Millions of dollars have been raised and today we are closer to a cure than ever in no small part because of this nation-wide drive. Thousands of cities nationwide take part. Haverhill is proud to be part of this great tradition and great effort.
The mayor said firefighters have collected money for more than 40 years, and “no one, no firefighter and no civilian, has ever been injured in collecting money.” Last year, Haverhill Firefighters collected $13,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
City councilors have the option of overriding the mayor’s veto or adopting his recommendation.