SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

May 1, 2014

Brimbal grant at risk over delays

Beverly: Plans must be final by year's end to retain state funds

BEVERLY — The city could lose a $5 million state grant to pay for the Brimbal Avenue project if plans are not finalized by the end of the year, Mayor Mike Cahill said.

Cahill said the city must present a “fully designed, fully permitted” road to state officials or risk losing the grant when a new governor takes office in January.

“We’ve got to make sure we take care of it this year,” Cahill said.

The plan to build a new Brimbal Avenue connector road has been delayed due to concerns about the structural integrity of the former landfill over which it would be built.

Due to those delays, Cahill said the Massachusetts Department of Transportation has agreed to spend up to $150,000 on designs for a road that would be built on the road’s current location rather than through the nearby landfill.

Cahill said the “in place” road plan needs to be pursued because he has “grave concerns” about whether the landfill road can go forward. He said the city will have to decide which plan to pursue by the end of May in order to secure the grant before the end of the year and the state elections.

Cahill said the city could “lose control” of the grant money if the project is not finalized under the administration of Massachusetts Department of Housing and Economic Development Secretary Greg Bialecki.

Bialecki awarded the grant in December under a program designed to spur economic development and job creation through public infrastructure improvements. A new governor will be elected in November, likely leading to a new secretary.

The Brimbal Avenue project was the subject of a controversial special election in February, when voters approved a rezoning measure that would allow a land swap between the state and a private developer. The swap would enable the city to build a new road through the former landfill and the developer to build a shopping plaza on the site of the current connector road.

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