SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

January 17, 2014

Letter: Brimbal Avenue project is 'better for Beverly'


The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

The Salem News recently published a thoughtful letter from Bailey Bishop (”Be informed when voting on Brimbal Avenue,” Dec. 28), which asked important questions about the Feb. 8 referendum vote regarding Brimbal Avenue in Beverly. The North Beverly Neighborhood Association attempted to answer Mr. Bishop’s questions, but the answers in their letter were tainted with misleading misinformation. As president of CEA, the owner of the industrial site affected by the referendum, I’d like to reply accurately to Mr. Bishop’s questions:

Mr. Bishop asks what the consequences will be of a “no” vote:

It will override zoning decisions made by the Planning Board and the City Council.

The land swap between CEA and the state will not take place.

CEA will develop the 6.4 acres of commercially zoned land that it already owns.

Whole Foods will no longer be part of the CEA development.

Commercial development and employment will still continue to grow in this industrial area.

Traffic will increase substantially in the years to come.

Bottom line: The neighborhood will end up with the worst of all worlds — more development and more traffic, but without the state-funded road improvements to manage it.

In replying to Mr. Bishop’s questions, the North Beverly group made some terribly inaccurate statements related to the former landfill use of this land. The citizens of Beverly are entitled to clear, straight, reliable information on this subject:

When CEA purchased this land from the Archdiocese of Boston in 2005, both state and city officials offered encouragement and support in the hope that this former landfill would be returned to productive use and to the city’s tax base.

Cleaning up former landfill sites and returning them to productive use is a high priority of the environmental movement. It was this “green” agenda that motivated CEA to purchase and develop this site in the first place.

Consistent with this “green” agenda, CEA has brought in Whole Foods, the nation’s leading purveyor of healthy and environmentally sound foods, and will design and build the project so as to receive LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The Department of Environmental Protection has studied this former landfill extensively and has issued a permit with controls to assure that it may be developed in a perfectly safe and healthy manner.

Under no circumstances will any landfill material be removed from this site.

CEA will retain ownership of the majority of the former landfill and will be responsible for all the remediation costs.

Under no circumstances will Beverly taxpayers bear any responsibility for costs associated with remediation of this former landfill.

Returning this landfill to productive use will generate a minimum of $200,000 per year in additional real estate taxes for the city.

After years of careful study by state and city officials, the Planning Board and City Council concluded that the Brimbal Avenue project was in the best interests of the entire city. Skeptical nearby residents, operating on misunderstandings and misinformation, reject the exhaustive public process that has brought us to this point. They are asking Beverly residents to do something extraordinary: override the Planning Board and City Council, turn down the $5 million state grant, overrule the careful work of several state agencies and, in a word, kill this state-funded transportation improvement project.

Unfortunately, residents are being asked to take this extraordinary step based on inaccurate and misleading information being circulated by the leaders of the North Beverly Neighborhood Association. Residents have been led to believe that a “no” vote would stop development and reduce traffic on Brimbal Avenue That is simply not the case. All a “no” vote will do is prevent Whole Foods from coming to Beverly and jeopardize state funding for much-needed road improvements. These are not exactly noble goals for which to override their elected representatives. Rather, advocacy for a “no” vote reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the issues that will ultimately harm the interests of the very people who are leading the charge.

Why vote “yes?” Because it’s better for Beverly. All of Beverly. For more accurate information, go to BetterForBeverly.org.

Steven A. Cohen

President

CEA Group