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One Question For The Ward One City Council Candidates

FOOTPRINT DEVELOPMENT – A New Plant, 40 Acres, and Then What?

McCarthy And Murphy On Our Waterfront Future



Ward One is up next in our continuing series asking questions of those who are seeking public office in Salem this year.  Robert K. McCarthy is the incumbent and he is being challenged by Annalyssa Gypsy Murphy.

The question that we asked was this.

“The Footprint project is soon to complete the construction of the new gas-fired power plant. There are 40 acres of undeveloped land remaining, most of which are considered a Designated Port Area (DPA). What is your vision for that acreage and how would you work with state and federal officials as planning for that area moves forward?”


Robert McCarthy 

The remaining 40 acres of the power plant site is an unique opportunity.

Never again will we have the opportunity to have 40 acres available for development along the water front. We must engage the owners and develop consensus towards a mutual vision that will shape the water front, the neighborhood and the city as a whole for years to come.

There is a Deep Port Area(DPA) restriction on the property as well as an underlying zoning of Industrial. Combined these currently limit the the development to water dependent industrial uses. The owners could move forward with developments that meet these criteria with little input. I do not believe this is what anyone wants for that entire site, but because of the DPA there will always be some portion of the site that will be a DPA. There are only a hand full of deep water channels in the State and the designation would never be entirely removed from the site.

We have secured joint ownership of the deep water pier with the power plant during the public process when it was permitted prior to construction. It would seem to make sense that the industrial uses would be behind the new plant and adjacent to the Sewer Plant so they could have access to the pier. This would also keep any large industrial sized buildings isolated and away from the neighborhood.

The remainder of the 40 acres is the challenging part. Challenging in the sense, if there is a will to alter the zoning and petition the state to remove part of the DPA area, we will need to build consensus. The process to alter the DPA goes in front of the State’s Coastal Zone Management There will be hearings,meetings and public comment periods. much like what took place for the permitting of the power plant itself.

I have no preconceived ideas for what the site will ultimately look like. I have seen renditions of possible scenarios by a consulting group, Sasaki Associates. I was part of the working group that was formed to work with Sasaki to look at possible scenarios should the plant ever close. We were meeting when the old coal fired facility announced they were going to close. The meetings went from a what if discussion to a discussion of when. That study is on line on the City’s web site,under the planning department.

It’s six years later and when is now. We have to be open for suggestions and willing to listen to all concerned parties and build on those plans and create new ones. We need to start discussions and work with the owners and find a mix that works for everyone. What that mix is, I am not sure. I do not think anyone is 100% sure. I believe it is the combination and balance of a lot things. I know decisions like this can not be made in a vacuum

We had multiple meetings back then and I am sure there will be more to come. Open communication is the only way to move this discussion forward with a positive result.

I Look forward to the discussions and the input to help shape the development of this very crucial part of the waterfront


Annalyssa Gypsy Murphy

Opportunity. That’s the first word that comes to mind when I think of this development.  We know that historically waterfront areas were not seen as desirable in the way they are now and were generally the site of factories and other less attractive fixtures. In the latter part of the 20th century and as we emerge into the 21st-century as a largely post industrial culture, we see waterfront in a different light.

One that illuminates all the possibility for prosperity and growth in our community, that shows the waterfront as our collective gathering place.

Ward One in Salem is unique in that all of it is coastal or coastal adjacent and the availability of this land for development presents us with the greatest opportunity in this century thus far to shape Salem and the coastline landscape.

We are one of 10 designated port areas in Massachusetts and as such if elected I will work closely with the Massachusetts office of coastal zone management who works with the Massachusetts Department of environmental protection and other community watch groups to make sure that the fragile ecosystems along our coast are protected as we move forward in this exciting development opportunity.

As for my personal vision, I see myself as a mirror reflecting back what my community wants to see happen. I will say that with that in mind whatever development occurs – public access to collectively enjoy the space needs to be at the core of it.

I am excited by this opportunity to grow and develop the area collectively. Part of what brought me to Salem Massachusetts was my love for the history of this unique community and I am thrilled to be participating as an active agent in crafting that future.

I’ve heard a lot of you concerned about the impact on the historical nature of this area. I know quite a few of you are worried about what increased residential dwellings would mean for traffic and the local schools serving additional families. I am listening. It seems that low density housing and small scale commercial is the way most people I’ve spoken to seem to be thinking and I concur. I also know that there would have to be thoughtful road planning and I would work with traffic consultants so that collectively our community gets the best outcome from this development. I promise you that when a decision for the development is reached it will be through collective meetings and discussions that are open and transparent.

This is our time and generations of SALEM will look back on what we decided for this place and I’m excited to engage with all of you as we collectively plan not my vision, or your vision for this development but our vision!

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