, Salem, MA

October 31, 2013

Heard around town: The British invasion of Peabody


---- — PEABODY — They’re back. Kids from the George Peabody Trust in London are visiting the North Shore once again to explore the roots of the man who established housing for the working poor in London, housing that still exists today after more than 150 years.

Bill Power of the Historical Society is among those chaperoning the nine visitors, ages 13 to 16.

“We’re trying to hit some different spots this year,” he said, including libraries backed by the Peabody-born, 19th-century financier and philanthropist in Danvers, Georgetown and Newburyport.

“It’s been absolutely fabulous getting to visit all the places that have a legacy of George,” said Ebun Atinmo, whose Nigerian name does not preclude a very proper British accent. “It’s so clear that George is very big on giving people opportunity.”

Peabody was careful to differentiate help from handouts, insisting that his donations help people help themselves. Atinmo commented on seeing that same spirit alive in the attitudes of people in Peabody to this day.

“George’s legacy lives on,” she said.

As far as America goes, Atinmo, on her first visit, said, “It’s big. Everything is big, from the roads to the cars. Even the portion sizes when we go out to eat.”

No gas tax? Oh, wouldn’t it be loverly

State Sen. Joan Lovely (D-Salem) responded by letter to the City Council’s plea that the Legislature repeal the computer and gas tax, noting that she and her colleagues axed the computer tax on Sept. 26. Of course, you probably weren’t expecting to pay a great deal on the computer tax, but you might be impacted by the gas tax, which is geared to rise automatically with the rate of inflation.

“During the Senate’s consideration of this (computer tax) repeal,” Lovely wrote, “Sen. Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) offered an amendment to eliminate the indexing of the gas tax to inflation. I voted in favor of Senator Tarr’s amendment; however a majority of the Senate rejected it.”

But don’t despair yet, taxaphobics. Some groups are hoping to put the issue on the ballot.

Keep on truckin’ — somewhere else

In Peabody, several roads barred to truck traffic aren’t really barred to truck traffic, according to a letter sent by Deputy Chief Marty Cohan to the City Council. A limit of 2.5 tons is legitimate on Aborn, Forest, Gardner, Northend, Summit, Sutton and Winona streets, as well as Summit Street Extension, Violet Road and Roosevelt Avenue.

But the city is pulling a fast one on Driscoll, Proctor, Oak and Bartholomew streets, as well as Clement and Farm avenues. Cohan said in his letter, “There are 10 streets in Peabody that have been authorized by the City Council and approved by the Mass. Highway Department as exclusions to truck traffic and as such can be posted and enforced. ... There are also a number of streets that have been locally accepted as exclusions but were not approved by Mass. Highway and as such we cannot enforce.” That includes the latter list.

The signs are up to discourage trucks from going down those streets nonetheless, Cohan said. Given state regulations, he holds out little hope that those streets can be legally made off-limits for trucks. So, if you know any truckers — mum’s the word.


Mayor Ted Bettencourt practiced a little foreign policy yesterday as he greeted Maria Conceicao Cordeiro, vice mayor of Santa Cruz, Graciosa, in the Portuguese Azores. Of course, this was a case of foreign policy between families, as many Peabody residents, including the mayor, have relatives in the Azores.

After an exchange of gifts in the corner office, the vice mayor went off to stay with her brother and his family here in Peabody.