, Salem, MA

July 5, 2013

Naming rights and naming wrongs

By Alan Burke
Staff writer

---- — PEABODY — What’s in a name?

When it comes to the naming rights at various locations around Peabody schools, there’s money. At least some members of the School Committee think there might be. And member Dave McGeney wants to dispute the notion, raised by colleague Beverley Griffin Dunne, that it would be tantamount to selling the city’s soul to raise money by auctioning off naming rights and creating, for example, the Coca Cola Gymnasium or the Ty-D-Bol Science Lab.

In so many words, McGeney suggested that the city made that sale a long time ago, and it was a very good deal.

“Here’s the irony,” said McGeney. “Unlike our surrounding communities, Peabody is the only one named after a guy so rich he could do some good here.”

That fellow was George Peabody, who was born here and grew up in what was then called South Danvers. He went on to become one of the richest men in the world and one of the most generous.

He never forgot his hometown, but just in case, city fathers changed the name of South Danvers to Peabody in 1868, a year before George’s death. Previously, he had endowed both Danvers and Peabody with separate libraries having identical names.

“The Peabody Institute Library,” McGeney reminded, “is named after the man and not the city.”

Griffen Dunne strongly opposes the idea of selling naming rights, particularly at the Veterans Memorial High School, where names have traditionally gone to veterans or military concepts. On the other hand, she does express sympathy for efforts to increase funding at the schools.

McGeney denied that any veterans’ names would be eliminated or forgotten at the high school.

“We wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we weren’t looking for new sources of revenue,” he added. “I don’t think we should be criticized for looking into things.”

Stop & detour

The state has alerted the city about work on the bridge that spans the North River at Howley Street. In order to get the work done, the city was asked to take, via eminent domain, some land alongside the road.

The City Council’s legal affairs subcommittee sat to consider the request last week, and chairwoman Anne Manning Martin offered a caution, recalling an eminent domain taking as part of the construction of Brown School more than a decade ago. It set off a bitter, citywide controversy as longtime residents were forced to give up their home. Martin advised care lest something similar happen now.

Nobody’s house is involved in this, however, though Spike Flomp, who owns commercial property at 24 Howley St., has asked for clarification over what’s involved. Other businesses on the street have agreed to cooperate.

“My big concern is for the small businesses there, because Howley Street is going to be closed for three months. ... It might be even longer,” council President Tom Gould said.

But the question all of Peabody (and some of Salem) is asking is, “Can I get to Stop & Shop?”

The answer is yes. But you can’t get there from here if here is Walnut Street.

The full council has yet to vote on the issue.

You won’t win anything watching TV

If you’ve forgotten how much you like to read, Peabody Institute Library is eager to remind you. As part of a Summer Reading Program aimed at adults 18 and older, the library is offering the opportunity of an enhanced reward just for reading something you like.

It works like this, according to librarian Kelly Rae Unger: Check out at least two summer reading books from the main library, the West Branch or South Branch, fill out a card and become eligible for a raffle. The winners of the drawing will come away with a Starbucks gift card, a Kindle Fire or two tickets to a Red Sox game.

“You only need to read two books to enter the raffle,” said Unger in a press release, “but the more you read, the better your chances of winning!”