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November 19, 2013

Beverly council backs lease

Mayor authorized to sign deal for waterfront restaurant

(Continued)

Councilors Brett Schetzsle, Don Martin and Jim Latter voted against the lease. Schetzsle cited several reasons, including concerns over parking, traffic and a proposed access road through the Ferryway Landing park, which he called “unthinkable.”

“What we’re proposing to do under this lease is just too big,” he said.

Schetzsle, who lost his re-election bid in Ward 6, proposed putting off a vote until the next council and new mayor take office in January.

“The mayor-elect has said he will take a different approach to developing the waterfront,” Schetzsle said, referring to Cahill, who was in the audience. “Let’s take him up on it.”

But Councilor Maureen Troubetaris, who is retiring in January after 22 years on the council, said she wanted to vote.

“I’m qualified to make my decision,” she said. “I don’t know if the new board is.”

Martin said Troubetaris’ remarks were “insulting” to the newly elected councilors and the mayor-elect. The council voted down Schetzsle’s proposal to put off the vote, 6-3.

Martin expressed concern that the city would approve a lease while the restaurant proposal is still in litigation. The state Appeals Court is scheduled to make a decision soon, possibly in January.

Martin said the city should issue another request for proposals to see if it can get a better deal, as it has done with the former McKay School, which is out for bid for a third time.

Schetzsle said he was also concerned that the city changed the terms of the lease since it issued the original proposal. He compared it potentially to the controversial bidding process to run the city-owned Beverly Golf & Tennis Club earlier in Scanlon’s administration that ended up in court.

“If this restaurant fails, we get an empty restaurant,” Schetzsle said. “That’s a worst-case scenario, but we saw a worst-case scenario at Beverly Golf & Tennis.”

But the councilors in favor — Paul Guanci, Wes Slate, Scott Houseman, Scott Dullea, Silva and Troubetaris — said now is the time for the city to finally move ahead on the waterfront.

“It’s worth doing,” Slate said. “It’s worth doing now.”

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or pleighton@salemnews.com.

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