Ryan Vote Carries The Day
Lovely, Milo, Sargent Oppose Purchase
By William Legault
The vote in favor was 8-3, with eight votes being the minimum needed to authorize the purchase. Voting in opposition were Ward 3 Councilor Steven Lovely, Councillor at-Large Elaine Milo, and Councilor at-Large Arthur Sargent.
The council also approved the use of $100,000 in CPA funds to be used to pay for designing the space by the same 8-3 vote.
The Mayor and the supporting councillors envision a public open space that will used to provide public access to the Waterfront and allow for the completion of the uncompleted Salem Harbor Walk. It is seen as a way to aid the revitalization of an older and neglected commercial corridor that has in recent years seen a resurgence as a dining destination. The Mayor envisions a potential linkage to the underutilized and neglected Peabody Park on the other side of the South River Canal.
During the public speaking portion of the meeting there were speakers who opposed the project on the grounds that the lot should remain on the commercial tax rolls. Some also spoke to the city’s failure to properly maintain our current open spaces. There were some concerns raised as to the potential contamination on the site.
Councillor Milo said that “Salem needs more passive recreation spaces and additional sensible economic development.”
Ward Three Councillor Lovely spoke of the lack of maintenance at Salem Willows Park and Winter Island and stated in reference to Peabody Park that, “I wouldn’t want my daughter to walk down there.”
Councillor at-Large Jerry Ryan was seen as the swing vote on this issue. After considering what his father, and some past councillors like Lenny O’Leary and Joe O’Keefe would have done he made his decision. In an emotional moment he decided to vote in support.
We will provide more information on this project as it becomes available.