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March 14, 2013

No resolution yet

Senior center plan moved to regular council for vote

SALEM — No resolution was reached on the senior center last night.

The mayor’s new financing plan — the last hurdle for a community center to be built at Boston and Bridge streets — needs the support of eight out of 11 city councilors to be approved.

Last night, councilors voted to move the issue out of committee and onto a regular council meeting, where it can be voted on.

At the end of a four-hour meeting, Councilors Todd Siegel, Michael Sosnowski and Jerry Ryan, the council president, did not say how they intended to vote. Councilor Arthur Sargent said he’d vote against the new financing plan, and seven councilors said they’d vote in favor: William Legault, Robert McCarthy, Josh Turiel, Paul Prevey, Joseph O’Keefe, Kevin Carr and Tom Furey.

Mayor Kim Driscoll urged councilors to let people know where they stand at the end of the meeting, for the sake of residents who sat through the lengthy session.

“We don’t have to say where we stand,” Ryan said. “I’m sorry, I don’t give in to peer pressure.”

The meeting, held at 5 Broad St., was packed to standing room only with more than 100 people. Councilors heard comments — mostly in favor of the planned center — from the audience for more than one hour.

“If you don’t do it tonight,” Kay Walsh said to the council, “you have said you don’t want a senior center and are not doing your due diligence.”

The financing plan is the final OK needed to start work on Gateway Center, a public/private development that would include offices, 374 parking spaces and a 20,000-square-foot community center.

Driscoll is asking councilors to approve a bond to pay for the city’s portion of the project. She says the estimated $400,000 in property tax revenue the development should bring in would cover the annual bond payments.

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