DANVERS — North Shore mayors painted a picture of economic progress during the annual State of the Region meeting yesterday morning at the Danversport Yacht Club.
The leaders of eight cities and towns detailed hundreds of millions of dollars in public or private investment in schools, roads, housing, parks and waterfront property.
In Salem alone, more than $1.5 billion in investment is expected to take place over the next few years, Mayor Kim Driscoll said. Those projects include a new, $800 million natural gas facility, with plans to use the current coal plant’s deep-water dock to welcome cruise ships to the city.
Driscoll called the plan “an opportunity to trade coal ships for cruise ships.”
“Our city is once again looking to the sea to chart our way forward,” she said.
Mayors of seven cities and towns, plus Danvers Town Manager Wayne Marquis, took turns giving five-minute updates on their communities to the more than 300 people at the event, held by the North Shore Chamber of Commerce.
Driscoll said there are so many projects in Salem that the city created a website, buildingsalem.com, to keep residents informed. More than 100 new rental units are currently under construction, most of them at market rates, she said.
“Salem is a city that considers itself a city, and having a mix of incomes and a mix of housing is important to that lifestyle,” she said.
Beverly Mayor Bill Scanlon, who will leave office in January after 18 years as mayor, said cooperation between municipal leaders on regional issues continues to improve.
He cited the “shining example” of the $133 million Essex Technical High School that is under construction in Danvers and is scheduled to open next year.
Scanlon said the combination of improvements to Beverly’s schools and lower interest rates are attracting younger families to buy homes in the city. School enrollment has increased four years in a row, he said.