SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

July 24, 2013

Residents to meet with mayor over Pulaski Street traffic

By Alan Burke
Staff writer

---- — PEABODY — Residents on Pulaski Street want change — just not the change recently proposed by the city.

A plan to rezone the industrial park on Pulaski Street seems to have been abandoned, but residents are still geared up to support changes designed to improve the quality of life on their street. The complaints on Pulaski Street involve both truck traffic and activity in the industrial park. Pulaski is an alternate route for trucks denied passage on nearby Gardner Street.

“It’s 24/7,” resident Lola Busta said.

A storage area for school buses has upped the congestion and noise. As for the truck traffic, Busta said, in the past it has resulted in “house-shaking” noise, which has been alleviated somewhat by the city’s repairs to the roadway.

Former at-large City Councilor Bill Toomey, who is currently a candidate for the ward councilor position being vacated by Rico Mello, has joined the effort to lobby on behalf of Pulaski Street residents. Residents believe that steps can be taken to reduce the impact of truck traffic, he said. For example, trucks exiting the industrial park are habitually taking illegal right turns, sending them into Wilson Square. Residents want that stopped.

Further, Toomey and his neighbors support a sign on Margin Street forbidding trucks from making left turns onto Pulaski Street — sending drivers bound for Route 128 into Danvers instead. That would go far to ease the traffic crush on Pulaski, Toomey said.

“They make a hairpin turn onto Pulaski Street now. ... They could easily go to Danvers,” he said.

Toomey dismissed any complaints that might come from Danvers as a result of the increased truck traffic there.

“Everybody has to carry the load,” he said.

After an earlier meeting this summer, Mayor Ted Bettencourt has agreed to meet with residents next month to deal with this, Busta said.

“We sat down and discussed these things with the mayor,” Toomey said. “He saw our point of view, and we saw his.”

“The zoning is going to stay the same,” Busta said. “They’re not going to change it.”

City officials could not be reached for comment. But, initially, they proposed the change in zoning as a way to alleviate the problems experienced by residents. As part of this plan, half of the industrially zoned area would have been designated for business.

Community development director Karen Sawyer felt that the idea could lead to benefits. For example, poorly maintained property along the North River could be cleaned up and used for recreation.

Yet, very quickly, opposition to the idea came from both the occupants of the industrial park and the residents. Park occupants feared that the change would complicate and restrict their use of their property.

“At this point, I’m not sure this (zoning change) is going to be going any further. ... It seems some of the push has dissipated,” said Don Kelley of Wayside Trailers.

As to resident complaints, Kelley and others maintain that the industrial park predates the nearby housing. Neighbors have disputed that.

Kelley conceded, “We’ve had a couple of bad tenants over the years.” He said that the buses, which have drawn so much ire, may not be located, strictly speaking, in the industrial park.

Staff writer Alan Burke can be reached at aburke@salemnews.com.