BEVERLY — It took only about 15 minutes for time to stand still in honor of Bill Scanlon last night.
In a ceremony marked by a characteristically brief speech by the man of the hour, about 150 people gathered on Beverly Common to dedicate a 17-foot-tall clock in tribute to the former mayor.
Scanlon, who retired in January after 18 years as the city’s longest-serving mayor, was never one to talk much about himself. So, when it came time to address the crowd, he stepped up to the microphone and spoke for only about two minutes.
“This is our clock,” he said, pointing toward the stately green timepiece on the edge of the common across from the Beverly library. “It’s not my clock; it’s our clock. If we got something done, and I think we did, it was a team effort.”
The clock, which cost about $17,000, was purchased with private money raised by a group of friends and former staffers of Scanlon, including city solicitor Roy Gelineau, planning director Tina Cassidy and finance director John Dunn.
Scanlon actually came up with the idea of a clock when he was asked what he would like for a retirement present. He insisted that it be given as a gift to the city.
A plaque on the clock reads, “A gift to the citizens of Beverly from friends of Mayor Bill Scanlon, Beverly’s longest serving mayor.”
“This clock will stand as a testament to Bill’s service with this city for decades to come,” said Gelineau, who introduced Scanlon. “That it is located at the common is particularly fitting, because restoration of the common was one of the first, if not the first, visible improvement projects Bill undertook when he became mayor.”
Gelineau said Scanlon took over a city that was “foundering on the shoals of financial ruin” and quickly went to work. Gelineau outlined a long list of accomplishments, including the renovation of the elementary schools, construction of a new high school, the transformation of the old United Shoe factory into the Cummings Center office park, the MBTA parking garage set to open next month and a planned new middle school.