Alice Merkl Answers Our City Wide-Master Plan Question
Is The Legacy Master Plan Still Relevant?
The City of Salem City Wide Master Plan was written in 1979 under Mayor Jean Levesque. It was last updated in 1996 under Mayor Neil Harrington. Does this Master Plan, as written and updated remain relevant to the needs of the city in the 21st Century?
While many of the basic needs of our city have remained consistent, such as being able to provide enough housing, maintain a thriving economy, keeping the historical integrity and beauty of our city intact, etc; it is always important to incorporate the evolving needs of our city with the new challenges we face. Back in the 1970’s we had an urban renewal project that began to demolish many of our downtown historical structures. This prompted an increase in attention to historic preservation (thank you Historic Salem for all your had work since 1944!). Then in 1996 we updated the master plan to focus on business, our maritime and cultural heritage, and redevelopment of neglected areas.
This is all still relevant today, and we also need to incorporate the new challenges we face such as the climate crisis and coastal resiliency, a housing crisis, maintaining a strong infrastructure with a 400 year old city, and the increased traffic and parking challenges.
Also in regards to having a master plan, I think it’s important to also recognize the specific needs of the different communities here, possibly with individual master plans as well, which in some areas we already have such as the North River Canal Corridor Master Plan.