“The city acted in a just cause to make sure they had all their i’s dotted and their t’s crossed,” Gamache said. “This is the biggest development in 20 years. We have to slow down to make sure it’s done right.”
Gamache said he recalled past arrangements with other developers where conditions were set and “when it came to addressing certain issues, everybody had a sudden case of amnesia.”
Miranda Lam, a Salem State associate professor and chairwoman of the accounting and finance department, agrees that sometimes developers fail to do what they’ve promised. The money in escrow, she added, “only becomes important if he promised to do things — like build a water tower — and failed to do them.”
Lam warned that in an escrow account, where distribution of the money is handled by a neutral third party, “a lot depends on the fine print.”
The water tank, Planning Board Chairman Jack Creeden said, is a vital addition to the infrastructure of South Peabody, and it’s expected to go up prior to the construction of the homes.
“A lot of homes there now,” Creeden said, “the water pressure is low. It’s maintained by pumps. And the most effective way to get the water pressure up is by an elevated tower.” Thus, the construction of the tower will be a benefit to a wide area of South Peabody.
As part of the project, Solimine agreed previously to construct a water line to Bartholomew Street so that water can be pumped into the tower.
Solimine said he did not hesitate to offer the $1 million.
“It was a show of good faith,” he said. “... We need to build the water tower.”
The project, which will go up in stages over a period of years, won’t work without it, he said.