, Salem, MA

November 1, 2012

How dry Peabody is

By Alan Burke Staff writer
The Salem News

---- — PEABODY — Mayor Ted Bettencourt pronounced himself “thrilled” in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

“Fortunately, we didn’t take the brunt of it. But there were no reports of flooding. ... I thought the city held up very well.”

Preparation helped, the mayor indicated, and it also may have inspired a move to keep Peabody dry in the future. City workers set to cleaning out the culverts that so often clogged and backed up water into the streets.

In the process, they found plenty of debris, including tires and a refrigerator. “We’re reviewing the illegal dumping ordinance,” Bettencourt said. Knowing how much damage can result from clogged waterways, the mayor suggests getting the ordinance toughened, the fines increased.

Judge goes ‘Bonkers’

How did Peabody lose the right to forbid construction of a giant billboard on Lowell Street? City Solicitor Michael Smerczynski gave the City Council the condensed version last week, reviewing the lawsuit heard in Superior Court.

It was a matter, he indicated, of the court “substituting judgment” and trying to determine why the council agreed to billboards in some places but not others. The judge’s efforts extended to examining all the evidence, including the council’s deliberations when it voted down the billboard as eye pollution last summer.

That may have been where things went wrong for the city.

“I think the judge went down to look at that Bonkers sign,” complained council President Jim Liacos, who supposed the judge reasoned thusly, “You got the Bonkers sign here. Is this (new billboard) any less disgusting?”

The council passed new zoning regulations last week to deal with signs, hoping it puts their future decisions on a sounder legal footing.

“I am feeling a little shellshocked from being sued so much,” Liacos commented.

Tote that barge,

lift that bale

The City Council tried to hurry up its deliberations at last week’s meeting so the mayor could leave.

“I know he puts in long, arduous days and might want to go home to his family,” commented Councilor Dave Gamache.

The mayor grinned and returned the compliment, telling the council, “I know you all put in long, arduous days.”

You’re fired

Progress at Burke School continues apace, according to Superintendent Joe Mastrocola. “Most important — we’ve got our windows.” He salutes contractor Jim Lambrianidis for working “day and night” to put them in.

He’s less kind to the window manufacturer, Graham Architectural Products of York, Pa. School officials endured repeated delays prior to the delivery of the 51 windows needed to complete the school renovation. Meanwhile, kids were left sitting in the cafeteria and gym.

A Graham representative, Mark Hiscock, attended the most recent school board meeting to explain that the delay was caused by the need to get the windows just right lest they fail to fit.

Mastrocola was not impressed. “I would never do business with that group again,” he says.

Nirvana by a nose

There were 101 Dalmatians, but only 100 small cities chosen by Money magazine as “best places to live 2012.” And Peabody managed to be 100th on the list.

Take that, Paris.

Bettencourt stresses that the list is based on job opportunities, schools, low crime, good health care and a sense of community. Small cities are based on populations from 50,000 (Peabody just made it) to 300,000, and statistics are used in elevating the happiest places.

The best place of all, according to Money magazine, is Carmel, Ind. — flat but sweet.