To the editor:
I love Salem. I’ve lived here for 25 years. My husband is a native, and this has been a great place to raise our children, now 18, 16 and 14. Not only do we have a walkable city center with rich history, culture, thriving restaurants and gorgeous architecture, but we have public beaches, a municipal golf course and parks in every neighborhood. This is a wonderful community, but I fear that many of us take Salem for granted.
Salem is, in part, such a great city because former residents made it this way. They built beautiful homes. They donated their properties to the city to use as our City Hall, our library and Mack Park. They designed an amazing park system. They ensured the city got control of Winter Island for public use. They saved the Witch House, built a municipal golf course and a public swimming pool. Now, it is our turn to be good stewards of these resources to ensure their future enjoyment for our fellow Salem residents.
It is getting harder and harder to pay for the maintenance and upkeep of all these amenities. The fence on the Common needs repairs, the buildings at Winter Island are falling down, the building at Mack Park needs a new roof ... this list goes on and on.
The Community Preservation Act can help. It is an opportunity to set aside a small amount of money each year. The best part is the state will match it. Financially savvy neighboring cities and towns like Peabody, Hamilton, Middleton, Gloucester and Rockport have taken advantage of this program. Salem should be able to get its fair share.
My children’s great-grandmother spent her summers at Pickman Park, as did their grandfather. Their grandmother grew up playing at Mack Park. Their father spent his summers playing basketball at Furlong, McGlew and Cabot Farm. My children camped every summer at Winter Island, played soccer at Mansell and McGrath, grew vegetables at the community garden at Mack Park, kayaked out of McCabe, Palmer Cove and Forest River. My son paddleboards at the Willows and runs cross-country with his school at the Common. I brought my children’s school groups to the Witch House, Salem Woods, Old Town Hall and the library. How lucky are we to have all of these resources available to us? These are all places that need CPA funds.
As a Park and Recreation commissioner, I know how much we need to do, and how limited our resources. Please, make the smart fiscal decision and let the state help us with our inventory of historic buildings and extensive park system. Let’s do our part to maintain what the former residents of Salem have left us, so we can pass it along to the next generations.