Jill Mulholland Answers Our Questions
Highland Avenue Development, South Salem Rail, and Salem Woods
Question 1 –Ward 3 abuts the the entire southeastern side of Highland Avenue (Rte 107), a very busy and extensively developed entrance corridor. How would you approach any future development proposals for that entire area?
My top priority for new developments within Ward 3 will be to make sure that any residents who would be directly affected by the proposed project have a voice at the table from start to finish. Development projects within our ward are inevitable, but we can be leaders in the conversation to make sure that the companies are putting our current residents’ quality of life first.
Development doesn’t exist in a bubble – we can’t build if we don’t have the proper infrastructure in place to support it, and right now, that’s something we’re really struggling with. Since Route 107 is under state control, I will communicate with Rep. Tucker and Sen. Lovely’s offices in order to stay on top of the state’s proposed improvements for Highland Avenue so I can keep our residents informed on its progress. Using my background as a community organizer, I can make sure Ward 3 residents can be a more organized and effective voice for making Highland Avenue as high a priority as possible for the state.
Additionally, I will be putting pressure on developers interested in Ward 3 to meet a much higher standard of sustainable construction practices. I have seen the way traditional construction has negatively affected our neighbors’ quality of life. Using environmentally sustainable building materials, constructing smaller buildings, quicker build times, and as little blasting as possible – those practices are better for the environment, and most importantly, they’re better for residents.
Question 2 – The proposed MBTA stop along Canal Street is still on the table. Do you support the addition of this rail station and if so how would you propose making it more accessible to Ward 3.
I do support the proposed MBTA stop along Canal Street. I’ve spoken with folks about this proposal while door-knocking this summer, and the general consensus has been that a lot of us, myself and my partner included, would feel much safer walking and biking to a South Salem commuter rail stop than to our existing downtown stop. This is a great opportunity to reduce traffic within the city by providing a public transportation option to the Jefferson Avenue area, which currently lacks reliable public transportation.
With the city currently looking into an intra-city shuttle system that would be free for residents, I would push for launching the shuttle in time for the opening of the new commuter rail stop to make sure as many Ward 3 residents have access to it on day one.
Question 3 – Have you any thoughts on how the city uses, maintains, and preserves Salem Woods and its nature trail?
Salem Woods is a wonderful hidden gem of Salem, and based on my understanding of conversations with residents, it’s well-maintained by passionate, engaged volunteers, who have a good working relationship with the golf course and our Parks and Rec department. However, there’s only so much volunteers can do when it comes to larger-scale maintenance needs, especially with a limited budget. I would love to work with residents in order to look into additional grants and other community resources that would allow for more organized maintenance and preservation efforts.