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October 18, 2013

Peabody mayor proposes $5.1 million bond for field, pond and Fire Department

PEABODY — In this city it’s the stuff that dreams are made of, things city officials have been longing for going back, in some cases, more than 40 years.

Installation of a turf football field. Weed clogged Crystal Lake restored to a family fun area. New, modern pumper and equipment purchased for the Fire Department. Yet, Mayor Ted Bettencourt outlined a way to provide all this and more at last night’s meeting of the City Council Finance Subcommittee. And his plan easily won approval from the five members.

It will cost an estimated $7.6 million, the mayor explained, with enough money available from local sources to reduce the bond request to $5.1 million. The spending will have an impact on the tax rate, said Finance Director Patty Schaffer, but she wasn’t able yet to give any figures on that.

“In total,” said committee Chairman Dave Gravel, “if you look at all these programs, they tell people Peabody is on the move. We’re investing in ourselves.” That perception, he added, is likely to attract the sort of businesses that helps the city to thrive.

Fire Chief Steve Pasdon, with a supportive contingent of his firefighters looking on, made a case for the purchase of a new pumper truck along with updated equipment designed to help his people breathe inside of burning buildings. The pumper would replace a truck that was purchased in 1989, and no longer certified for use, he said. “It’s Engine 1. The workhorse.”

The self-contained breathing apparatus uses vital visor readouts to tell firefighters how much air they have. “We are replacing 53 units that were purchased in 1997,” he said. Currently, he said, no department on the North Shore is so out of date.

“You’re using 17-year-old equipment,” Gravel told Pasdon. “I hope we never get in that position again.”

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